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The Man 
in the 
Iron Mask 


Tighe Hopkins 


"The Silent Gate: A Voyage into Prison," 
"An Idler in Old France," "The Dungeons of Old Paris, 
"Lady Bonnie's Experiment," 





All rights reserved 


"" Tell me, I pray thee, thy name," cried Jacob, 
wrestling with the dark adversary at Peniel. So 
have successive generations of writers striven with 
that plaguy ghost of history, the Man in the 
Iron Mask, and have vainly entreated his name. 
But it has at last been spoken. The mask has 
dropped from him, behind which he lurked, it seemed, 

The solution of this diplomatic mystery of two 
centuries, the u ultimate dim Thule " of so many 
speculations, brings forward no new appellant. It 
disposes finally of a host of pretenders (whose claims, 
however, were for the most part quite abandoned in 
the nineteenth century), but it seeks the tragic honours 
of the mask for no fresh candidate. This may be 
a disappointment to some, for what is most fabulous 
in this history has at least been richest in dramatic 
surprises ; but to others, and especially to those 
who have followed the progress of research in 
France, and who are not unacquainted with the 
earliest true surmises on the subject, it will be 
rather gratifying to discover in the victim of Louis 
XIV.'s vengeance that Mattioli who was first put 
forward a hundred and thirty years ago — whose 
pretensions to the mask have been canvassed, de- 


bated, approved, assailed, rejected, renewed, and are 
now reduced to demonstration. 

History has allowed a long innings to guess- 
work, tradition, and invention in all that has con- 
cerned the Man in the Iron Mask. But the truth 
is that she has been ready to come into her own, 
to yield up the secret of the Mask, almost any 
time since the opening of the century. The right 
kind of research, and the dogged patience which 
nothing but Q. E. D. will satisfy : so much she 
asked in payment. The unlocking of Archives has 
left few problems of history unresolved ; and when, 
after the Revolution, those curious documents were 
disclosed which Louis, his ministers, his ambassadors, 
and his gaolers had penned in full security, it was 
certain that the true tale of the Masked Man must 
some day get the benefit of print. Louis XIV. 
had his revenge of Mattioli. History has had hers 
of Louis XIV. I cannot think that the story misses 
much in human interest by the elimination of the 
large element of fable ; but the fact remains that 
to a reader of old French history it presents no 
extraordinary feature. The mask itself excepted 
(and the unimportant character of that too celebrated 
disguise is hereafter shown), the fate of Mattioli 
was neither exceptional nor uncommon. It accorded, 
if not entirely with French jurisprudence, at all events 
with the administration of French justice. It was 
of a piece with the system under which political 
and other offenders always might be, and usually 
were, dealt with : arbitrary arrest, arbitrary im- 
prisonment, and arbitrary punishment, with or with- 


out the form of trial by a court, packed as Richelieu 
generally packed his, to ensure conviction. Trial 
and sentence were both dispensed with in Mattioli's 
case ; but in the days of the " bon plaisir royal et 
ministeriel," which were long before and long after 
the days of Richelieu, those formalities were easily 
forgone. So lightly were subjects of all degrees 
imprisoned under the monarchy, and so readily for- 
gotten in prison, that when a prisoner died after 
years of captivity, the very Minister by whose order 
he had been confined, and who had been informed 
of his demise, would often request to be told the 
reason of his detention. The close of the nineteenth 
century has shown us that justice in France can 
still be a thing of very small security to a prisoner 
at the bar ; and the epoch under consideration in 
this volume begins in the last quarter of the seven- 
teenth century. That a needy and obscure Italian 
diplomat and adventurer, having tricked, flouted, and 
infuriated a sovereign of the temper of Louis XIV., 
should end his days in the Bastille, is not a matter 
to excite even the most trifling degree of wonder. 
Still, the documents to be offered to the reader 
present, with some new lights, a remarkable picture 
of more than one phase of imprisonment under 
the old regime ; and in Saint-Mars we have the 
typical State gaoler of the age, incorruptibly faithful 
to his charge, inflexible almost to cruelty, callous 
to the sufferings of his prisoners, and in his 
private aspect a miser growing richer and richer at 
the expense both of the prisoners and of the 
public treasury. 


The credit of the identification of Mattioli with 
the Mask belongs, as one thinks it should belong, to 
France. The beginnings of what constitute history 
on this subject — history more or less exact at the 
outset — are set forth in the Introduction, and more 
minutely in the second part of the volume. Delort, 
whose Histoire de V Homme au Masque de Fer is 
seventy-five years old, was the first to publish a 
really useful collection of documents. Elsewhere I 
have explained how, owing to the incompleteness of 
the series he had access to, his system came to 
grief. Forty-five years later appeared Marius Topin's 
L Homme au Masque de Fer, which is still as a 
whole the best and most complete narrative extant 
But even Topin left something undone ; and his 
proof is not absolute. His is the merit, nevertheless, 
of having first spread the light upon the whole field 
of enquiry ; and he it was who brought the case for 
Mattioli triumphantly to the front again, when the 
one signal error of Delort and his contemporaries 
seemed to have left it for ever in uncertainty. Had 
the investigation ceased with Topin, an impartial critic 
of his work might well have decided that unless and 
until this hypothesis were completely overset, Mattioli 
should be received as the Man in the Iron Mask. 
The crowning proof, decisive and irrefutable, might be 
to seek ; but testimony and inference alike fastened 
the mask upon Mattioli. This hypothesis has not 
been overset. It has been carried further, and con- 
firmed. The solution of M. Frantz Funck-Brentano, 
ratified by the .common assent of scholars in France, 
has satisfied every doubt. Scarcely glancing at the 


history of the affair, summarising all in a few pages 
of irresistible and translucent argument, he has laid 
the great enigma bare.* 

There is a Legend of the Iron Mask, and there 
is a History of the Iron Mask. Of the Legend, 
only a small portion (and that, perhaps, the most 
ridiculous), is known to the generation of to-day : 
with the History, the detail of it, this generation is 
almost of necessity unfamiliar, since no volume has 
yet embraced the whole. Legend and History are 
here brought together and contrasted. The best 
and the most foolish stand side by side ; the incredible 
transmutations of the Legend, and the precise facts 
of the true and rather simple History. A certain 
political transaction, not of the highest importance, 
nor of the most unusual kind, took place two hundred 
years ago in France. Out of this transaction has 
arisen the most extraordinary fable of modern times. 
But truth has done her tardy office ; and the moral, 
somewhat worn, speaks for itself. 

*I refer to the chapter, " L' Homme au Masque de Fer," in 
M. Funck-Brentano's Ltgendes et Archives de la Bastille, Paris : 
Hachette et Cie., 1898. Second edition 1899. Crowned by the French 
Academy. An excellent translation from the pen of Mr. George 
Maidment has since been published by Messrs. Downey and Co. 


Introduction. — The Sphinx of French History 3 


Points worth Remembering — Sources of the Legend — "A Con- 
tribution to the History of Persia " — A " Persian " Romance 
of the Court of Louis XIV. — Louise de la Valliere — The 
Count of Vermandois — The anonymous Romance examined — 
Vermandois at the Siege of Courtrai — His Sickness and in- 
contestable Death — Burial at Arras — Vermandois not the Man 
in the Iron Mask . . . 27 


Branches of this System — Developments under the First Empire 
—Baron de Gleichen — Louis XIV. "a mere bastard" — A 
Discovery missed by Dumas — Voltaire and the Elder Brother 
— This Version perishes with the Revolution — Queen and 
Cardinal — Absurdities of Voltaire's Story — Soulavie and the 
Twin — Soulavie's Supporters — Choice of Dates ... 48 


Buckingham at the Court of Louis XIII. — Paris amazed at his 
Prodigality — A Retinue of six or seven hundred Persons — 
Buckingham falls in love with Anne of Austria — Anne never 
alone with him — Amiens — Buckingham's declaration — Amiens 
again — The Scene in the Queen's chamber — Anne sees Buck- 
ingham for the last time — Marie de Medici's statement to 
Louis XIII. — Not a vestige of Proof . . . . . 71 


Early days of Anne of Austria and Louis XIII. — The Girl's en- 
thusiasm and the Boy's indifference— The Marriage — "almost 
a question of State " — Richelieu and the young Queen — Illness 
of Louis XIII. in 1630 — Reconciliation — Birth of Louis XIV. 
— Ceremony and precautions at the birth of a Child of France 
— What of the Twin ? — Soulavie's story examined in Detail — 
Louvois's visit to the Mask disproved — The Silver Dish and 
the Linen Shirt — History repeats that "the Iron Mask was 
not a son of Anne of Austria " . . . . . .86 



Character of Monmouth — His conduct at Sedgemoor — In the 
presence of James II. — The System which makes Monmouth 
the Man in the Iron Mask— Extraordinary character of Saint- 
Foix's "proofs" — From the Cafe Procope to the boudoir 
of the Duchess of Portsmouth — Execution and Burial of 
Monmouth . . . 114 


"the king of the markets." 

The systcme Beaufort is the especial snare of age — Lenglet- 
Dufresnoy, Lagrange -Chancel, and Anquetil — Beaufort and 
Monmouth — Beaufort a Lumpkin at Court but a Leader in 
the Field — The market people dub him their King — Beau- 
fort appointed Admiral — His change of front — Lenglet-Dufres- 
noy's theory — The siege of Candia — Panic and rout of the 
French — Beaufort missing — The Dates — Was the Man in the 
Mask a Nonogenarian ? 139 


Bibliophile Jacob makes Fouquet the Masked Man — An earlier 


conjecture— "64, 389,ooo Ke ^ adiou "— The author of this jest 

unknown — The fable revived by Lacroix — Louis XIV. re- 
solves upon the overthrow of Fouquet — His arrest at Nantes 
in 1 66 1 — A special Court formed to try him — A " Seventeenth 
Century Warren Hastings affair" — The Judges in favour of 
banishment — Louis's decree of perpetual imprisonment — Sup- 
position on which Lacroix's hypothesis rests — Fouquet in the 
dungeon of Pignerol — Gradual improvement in his lot — His 
wife and family allowed to visit and stay with him — Fouquet's' 
death of apoplexy, March 23rd, 1680 — Impossibility of agree- 
ing with Lacroix — Theories of Ravaisson, Loiseleur, and lung 
— "Oblivion has looked upon them all " . . . .158 


Italian policy of Richelieu— Gradually abandoned by Louis 
XIV.— The " Military diplomacy " of Louvois— Character 
and situation of Charles IV. , Duke of Mantua— Casale— Louis 
covets this Stronghold — Intrigue begun in 1676 — Abbe 
d'Estrades— Ercole Antonio Mattioli— D'Estrades employs 
Giuliani to sound Mattioli 181 



The Situation — D'Estrades to Louis XIV. — Mattioli selected to 
conduct the affair — He wins the Duke of Mantua's consent to 
the sale of Casale — The Duke ambitious of a military com- 
mand under Louis — Mattioli to Louis — Louis to Mattioli — 
Louis to send an army into Italy — 100,000 crowns to be paid 
for Casale — Louis's conditions — Everything agreed to — 
Charles in a hurry to conclude the affair — Midnight conference 
between Charles and d'Estrades — Mattioli to go to Paris . 192 


Delays are now upon the French side — Mattioli 's journey post- 
poned — D'Estrades precedes him to France — Mattioli ill — 
Off at last — The Treaty — Mattioli has audience of Louis — 
Preparations on the Frontier — Louis to Charles of Mantua — 
The French impatient while the Italians begin to lag — Alarms 
— D'Asfeld seized by the Governor of Milan — Mattioli sus- 
pected — D'Estrades to Mattioli — Mattioli betrays the plot . 206 


Details of Mattioli's treason — His motives ? — Rage at the Court 
of France — How shall Mattioli be dealt with ? — Louis 
sanctions the proposal of d'Estrades — The King's Orders — 
The Abbe's ruse — The rendezvous — Mattioli falls into the 
trap — Is made prisoner by Catinat — Search for the papers — 
The King is avenged — Mattioli given out as dead — His family 227 


Pignerol in the 17th century — Saint-Mars : the gaoler quintessen- 
tialised — His manner of guarding his prisoners — Mattioli 
becomes the " Sieur Lestang " — Is to be treated "with 
severity" — Temporarily insane — The mad Jacobin — The Ring 
— Fifteen years in Pignerol ....... 250 


The first attempts to prove that Mattioli was the Man in the 
Mask — Delort — His omissions — Mattioli's fellow-prisoners at 
Pignerol — Saint-Mars receives the command of Exiles — The 
question is, What prisoners went with him ? Who was the 
prisoner who died of dropsy ? — Sudden disappearance of 
Mattioli's name from the correspondence of Louvois and 
Saint-Mars — Deductions of Loiseleur 270 



The history of the Mask not contained in any single set of 
documents — Topin takes up the trail — Reasons why Saint- 
Mars should have been afraid to take Mattioli to Casale — 
Was Mattioli at Exiles or not ? — The Missing Link — Mattioli 
was never at Exiles — He re-appears accordingly in the history. 285 


The Isles of Sainte-Marguerite — Arrival there of Saint-Mars in 
1687 — Mattioli still in Pignerol — Saint-Mars at his ease — The 
mandate of February 26th, 1694 — Reasons for the transfer of 
the three prisoners from Pignerol — Louis XIV. falling on his 
evil days — The mysterious journey — After the death of 
Fouquet and the release of Lauzun, Mattioli was the only 
"prisoner of consequence" at Pignerol — New measures of 
precaution — Mattioli, " your ancient prisoner " . . . 296 


A Prisoner of State under the Monarchy — Mattioli and other 
State Prisoners — Fable does duty for History — Origins of the 
legends of the Silver Dish and the Linen Shirt — The Guitar — 
Fact and fable in the history of the Iron Mask . . .312 


Saint-Mars is transferred from Sainte-Marguerite to the Bastille 
— He is to bring with him his "ancient prisoner" — From the 
Isles to Paris— The halt at Palteau — Letter of the grand- 
nephew of Saint-Mars — The entry in Du Junca's Journal — 
The Mask is a mystery, and remains a mystery, to the staff of 
the Bastille — But in the course of time his importance ceases 
— He is displaced in the Bastille by a fortune teller — Effect of 
this upon the Legend — Origin of the story of the whitewashed 
cell — Death and burial of the Mask — His name ; his age — 
"Marchioly," " Marthioli," Mattioli 323 


Q. E. D. 
The mask itself unimportant in the History — But the mask gives 
rise to the Legend— Mattioli the Man in the Mask ? — The 
proof set out — The Five Prisoners — Louis XV. and Louis XVI. 
— Madame Campan — Charles of Mantua in Paris . . . 350 


Buckingham, and his 

The Man in the Iron Mask, according to the Popular 

Legend Frontispiece 

Louis XIV. at the Age of Twenty-eight 

Louis, Comte de Vermandois . 

Louise de la Valliere, as a Carmelite Nun 

Voltaire .... 

Anne of Austria 

George Villiers, first Duke of 
Assassination . 

Anne of Austria and her Sons 

Louis XIII. 

Cardinal Richelieu . 

Cardinal Mazarin 

Charles II. 

The Duke of Monmouth . 

James II. 

The Execution of Monmouth on Tower Hill 

Francis de Vendome 

Nicolas Fouquet 

Louis XIV. . 

Plan of the Town and Citadel at Pignerol to face page 

Plan of the Dungeon of the Citadel at Pignerol 

to face page 

Louvois 231 

Plan of the Chateau of Exiles . . to face page 250 

Panorama of Pignerol (Pinerolo) at the present day . 

Plan of the Fort of Sainte-Marguerite to face page 

The Fort and Chateau of Exiles in 1681 . 

A Corner of the Fort of Exiles .... 

Isle and Portress of Sainte-Marguerite at the present 

Bird's-eye View of the Bastille, 16th and 17th centuries 

Entry in the Register of the Bastille .... 

Entry in the Register of Saint Paul's 

Burial Certificate of the Masked Prisoner . 

3 1 










J 35 



2 59 


2 93 

The f^an in the Iron, fy^ask 



An arrival at the Bastille, September, 

1698, has been the cause of more 

French discussion than any other event in 

the notable history of that fortress. 

It was Thursday, 18th of the month, and 

three of the afternoon. Armed men on 

horseback surrounded a closed litter, from 

which, when all was sure, descended a meagre, 

silent figure, Saint-Mars, Louis XIV.'s most 

trusted gaoler. He had come to the Bastille 

for the first time, having just received its 

command. The entry of a new governor 

would naturally be of no small moment to 

the staff, whose future lay between his hands ; 

but curiosity was immediately transferred from 

Saint-Mars to the prisoner who accompanied 



him. The prisoner's face was hidden by a 
mask of black velvet, a disguise in which no 
one had ever before been brought to the 
Bastille. The unhappy man was already a 
mystery, before even he had set foot within 
the prison which was to be the third and 
last of his long captivity. No one knew 
him, who he was or what he had done 
that Saint-Mars should have him in this ex- 
traordinary keeping. Together, Gaoler and 
Mask, they had traversed France from far 
Provence, travelling always in this secure 
fashion, by silent ways. At the chateau 
and domain of Palteau, a property of Saint- 
Mars, a halt had been made ; and the 
peasants of the estate who came out to meet 
their lord preserved and passed on as a 
tradition the memory of that strange visit. 
The mask, once seen, seems to have haunted 
the dullest fancy. In itself it was no way 
remarkable ; a little black velvet mask : what 


affected the mind was the circumstance that 
the person who wore it was a prisoner. 
This was something entirely unwonted. 
The peasants observed that when the table 
was served the prisoner was always kept with 
his back to the window, they noted the pistols 
at the hand of the vigilant Saint-Mars, and 
the two beds ranged together in the sleeping- 

The officers of the Bastille had been 
apprised, and the King's lieutenant, Du Junca, 
whose careful diary will be opened, had 
prepared for the prisoner " the third room of 
the Bertaudiere tower." 

Five years later, after one day's illness, 
November 19, 1703, this prisoner died in the 
Bastille. His end was so rapid that he did 
not receive the solace of the sacrament ; the 
chaplain " exhorted him a moment before he 
died." As dusk fell on the next afternoon the 
drawbridge was lowered, and a sorry funeral 


passed out, which took its way to the graveyard 
of the church of St. Paul : behind a rude coffin, 
two turnkeys of the prison. A furtive, per- 
functory burying, scarcely even decent ; into 
his hasty grave, probably by lantern-light, the 
turnkeys unknown lowered the unknown dead, 
and that was the end. On the church's 
register was inscribed the name of Marchioly. 
In the Bastille they had known him as the 
prisoner from Provence. 

This is that mysterious creature, the problem 
of whose identity has bewitched, impassioned, 
and embroiled six generations of enquirers. 
The incontestable facts are these: that in 1698 
Saint-Mars conducted to the Bastille a prisoner 
who died there five years later ; that he was 
known in the Bastille as the prisoner from 
Provence ; that his unique, unhappy memory 
survived his death in the prison, and overran 
the world. These are the simplest data of the 
problem that lies before us. Twenty-four years 


(1679 — 1703) in the obscurity of prison; at 
the end of that period, an obscure, untended 
death-bed, and a hurried and obscure inter- 
ment ; some further years of oblivion, and then 
there arises and steals from that graveyard 
of St. Paul this ghost that shrouds its face, 
intent upon an odd revenge, the torment and 
insoluble conundrum of historian, fabulist, 
novelist, dramatist, essayist and gossip — the 
Sphinx of French history : the Man in the 
Iron Mask. 

The sole question to resolve is : Whose 
was the face which the mask concealed ? 

The happy acumen of Topin instructs him at 
once as to the false path on which his predeces- 
sors, with scarcely an exception, had set forth. 
Voltaire had said : " What is doubly astonishing 
is this, that when the prisoner in question was 
sent to the Isles of Sainte- Marguerite, there 
did not disappear from Europe any personage 
of note" The Mask had lain fifteen years 


in the dungeon of Pignerol before they trans- 
ferred him to Sainte-Marguerite, but Voltaire, 
than whom never a writer has approached this 
theme with so complete a lack of information, 
did not take that fact into account. The 
statement just brought forward stimulated 
and obsessed all minds. Who of note did 
vanish from European scenes between the 
date of Mazarin's death (1661) and 1703 ? 
That must be the way to seek the truth 
about the Iron Mask ! Thus was begun the 
" monstrous brood" of all those theories and 
systems which have darkened counsel on this 
subject. In pieces of sundry sorts, waiting 
to be sifted and joined together ; in official 
despatches, epistles, reports, memoranda ; in 
certain live pages of the Bastille's archives, the 
true history of the Masked Man was lying 
all this while unheeded, unthought of. The 
hunt was elsewhere — anywhere, everywhere 
but where the quarry couched. They were 


all wanting to come upon the track of that 
11 person of importance " who must have 
been thrust out of sight while Louis XIV. 
was on the throne ! Was it a brother of 
Louis ? Was it Vermandois ? Was it 
Monmouth ? Was it Beaufort ? Was it 
Fouquet ? The least resemblance found or 
imagined, the mask was clapped on, and a 
new discovery given to the world. " Never 
an Indian deity," says Paul de Saint- Victor, 
" has undergone so many metempsychoses, 
so many avatars." To one incarnation of the 
Mask succeeds another and another ; system 
topples upon system ; but the Sphinx keeps 
hold on the secret. During thirty years 
(says Topin) Voltaire, Freron, Saint-Foix, 
Lagrange-Chancel and Pere Griffet were 
cutting and slashing one another most 
brilliantly, in a joust in which each adversary 
found it easier to demolish the opinions 
opposed to him than to maintain and win 


acceptance for his own. In Topin's day 
fifty-two writers, sharing among them twenty- 
five different hypotheses, had essayed to look 
behind the mask, and Vicomte Maurice 
Boutry extends the list to sixty, not embracing 
the legion of anonymous contributors to 
periodicals and dictionaries.* Would the 
problem ever be expounded ? This intermin- 
able series of defeats — system and system 
built up in years and shattered in an hour — 
ended by producing one curious but not 
unnatural result. Since no one could identify 
the Mask, might it not be that the Mask 
had never lived ? Here was perhaps some 
prodigious myth, and nothing more. Critics 
less sceptical, but despairing of the truth, 
averred the question beyond human ken. 

* In how many works on the Bastille there is mention of the Man 
in the Iron Mask, I cannot pretend to say. The library of the 
British Museum contains 40,000 treatises on this famous dungeon of 
pre-Revolutionary Paris. Thus, reading at the impossible rate of 
one a day, it would take alx>ve a hundred years to exhaust the 


" The history of the Iron Mask," says 
Michelet, " will probably remain for all time 
in obscurity." And Henri Martin : " History 
is debarred from giving judgment on what 
will never pass beyond the confines of con- 

But the curiosity of the world has never 
been appeased. Irritated, checked, baffled, 
and a hundred times defeated, it has come 
again to the quest. The itch spread far ; 
England, Germany, and Italy helped France 
to confuse the issue, to draw the mask a little 
tighter over those inscrutable features. 

A secret well kept during many years is 
greatly liable to distortion when it begins at 
last to emerge from the comfortable dark of 
legend and tradition. Indeed, it may become 
twenty or more dissimilar histories before it 
has been properly divulged. At one era and 
another the secret of the Iron Mask has been 
five-and-twenty secrets at the very least. In 


the lifetime of Louis XIV. it was preserved with 
a cunning and fastness scarcely to be believed. 
Was ever gaoler so mum as Saint-Mars ? 
That mute, uneasy shadow, perpetually plagued 
by fears for the safety of his prisoners, now 
with an eye at the key-hole and now crouched 
among the branches of a tree to spy unseen, 
never in four-and-twenty years gave up the 
secret which he held inviolable by order of 
the King. In the fifteen years the prisoner 
was captive at Pignerol, in the four years 
he lay at the Isles, in the five that brought 
his tragedy to a term in the Bastille, no sub- 
ordinate officer of either place had learned so 
much as his name. From Du Junca's journal 
we shall see presently that even the King's 
lieutenant got it by mere hazard after the 
prisoner's death. And the Court was not 
better informed than the Bastille. The 
omniscient Saint-Simon, the Greville of France, 
had never an inkling of the matter. That 


unbridled gossip, the Princess Palatine, who 
spent half the day at her desk inditing scandal 
to her family and friends abroad, was com- 
pletely wide of the mark.* Supposed at one 
time to rank among the prerogatives of the 
crown, history has proved that this was not 
the case with the sombre secret of the mask. 
Madame Campan will show us that it was 
unknown to Louis XVI. Napoleon expressed 
a lively regret at not being able to satisfy 
his curiosity. Louis-Philippe discussed the 
problem frequently, but confessed his ignorance 
of the solution ; and if certain other sovereigns 
pretended to the knowledge, the contradictions 
of their statements sanction the inference that 
they were not more correctly instructed. f 

* "I have just learned," writes Madame from Versailles, October 
22, 171 1, who was the masked man who died in the Bastille. His 
wearing a mask was not due to cruelty. He was an English lord whc 
had been mixed up in the affair of the Duke of Berwick (natural son 
of James II.) against King William. He died there so that the King 
might never know what became of him." 

t Topin. 


Here, then, indeed was a Secret of the State 
consummately preserved, not only during, but 
after, the lifetime of the monarch whose inte- 
rest it was to safeguard it. " See that no one 
knows what becomes of this man" * Such was 
the private peremptory order of Louis XIV. 
to his minister, Abbe d'Estrades ; and he was 
obeyed. Clearly, therefore, this would be a 
hard secret to come at, until the sole right 
method — the search for, and disentombing 
of, the documents — was chanced upon. 

But both the writers on this mystery and 
their readers, in England as in France, have 
displayed, for the most part, a rather singular 
perversity. It would be fastidious, if not 
altogether idle, at this day to make inquest on 
the motives which led so many authors of 
erudition, ingenuity, and exceeding patience to 
beguile the public with the notion that they 
had found beneath the mask the features 

* " II faudra que personne tie sfac/ie ce que cet homme sera devenu." 
Louis XIV. to d'Estrades : April 28th, 1679. 


of Vermandois, or Monmouth, or Beaufort, or 
the Armenian patriarch Avedick — nay, even 
of Moliere himself! Assuredly the scandal- 
hunters were not for nothing in this affair, 
and no doubt some private vengeances were 
served by certain theories which offered not 
the veriest semblance of reality.* In some 
other instances, when mere malignity has not 
motived the enquiry, the prepossessions of 
authors with fixed ideas have lured them far, 
and left them, in the end, the victims of 
irreducible dilemmas. A conjecture is reared 
into a system ; such facts as favour it are 
adopted as readily as the facts in opposition 
are rejected. When the list of famous men 
comprised within the historical period is ex- 
hausted, the period is audaciously extended ; 

* Thus, there were those who pretended to discover under the 
mask a son of the Duchess Henrietta of Orleans and Louis XIV. ; 
a son of Henrietta of Orleans and the Comte de Guiche ; a son of 
Christine of Sweden and Monaldeschi ; a son of Marie-Therese 
(wife of Louis XIV. ) and the negro servitor whom she had brought 
from Spain ; a son of Cromwell, etc. 


and a complacent public has been asked to 
accept some effigy of an Iron Mask alive in 
1706, three years after the attested death of 
the prisoner of Saint-Mars. Avedick, the 
Armenian patriarch, whose claims to the mask 
were advocated by the Chevalier de Taules, 
was not carried off until 1706. M. Emile 
Burgaud fixed on General Vivien Labbe de 
Bulonde ; but " M. Geoffroy de Grandmaison 
published in the Univers of January 9, 1895, 
two receipts signed by General de Bulonde, 
one in 1699, when the Masked Man was in 
rigorous isolation in the Bastille ; the other 
in 1705, when he had been two years dead."* 
It would seem, indeed, that scarcely an 
author has come quite single-minded to this 
task. There need be no general implication 
of bad faith ; it is sufficient to suggest that 
the majority of these defenders of systems 
not defensible were anxious first to get their 

# Funck-Brentano. 


literary profit out of a topic of perennial in- 
terest, and unwilling afterwards to admit the 
truth that must undo them. It is not, how- 
ever, in this way that things are proved, this 
is not the way of science ; and perhaps no sub- 
ject perplexing to history has remained longer 
in doubt from the common disregard of the 
just historical method. 

But the offence in chief, the mischief of 
the fable which has run throughout the world 
to the hurt of a woman and a queen, should 
be attached. It attaches immediately to 
Voltaire. Here, indeed, we must conclude, 
was malice prepense. First he prepares his 
audience by an attractive hint or two ; retires 
then, and watches the effect. Nothing could 
be better ; we are all agog : as much more of 
this as you please. So, without the least em- 
barrassment on the author's part, the horrid 
hoax is launched, and starts forthwith upon 
its travels. It was a piece of quite un- 


scrupulous sensationalism, skilfully imagined, 
but — as there will be occasion to show — 
elaborated with little art, and with less than 
no regard for consistency. None the less, 
there were in it all the elements of an abiding 
popularity ; it had the romantic quality, it was 
royally scandalous, it disclosed a seeming 
State secret of capital significance, it soiled 
the honour of a queen : for a hundred and 
fifty years it has represented to the many the 
whole entrancing truth of the Man in the 
Iron Mask. But the proofs ? Ah ! there, 
indeed, we are speedily confounded. M. Vol- 
taire apparently forgot that history, sooner or 
later, would be wanting to know what he 
meant by it — this titillating fable of her 
Majesty's amours and the semi-royal child 
resulting from them, who was to end his days 
as the prisoner of the mask. On Voltaire's 
part not an ounce of real proof was ever 
offered, and the researches of scholars have 


clearly demonstrated that none ever could 
have been offered, since none was ever in 
existence. Of all the systems of the mask 
this one is the most denuded of testimony. 
The utmost rigour of investigation has failed 
to shew that Anne of Austria had any part in 
the affair of the Iron Mask ; on the other 
hand, it has shewn conclusively that she had 
none. At the time it was begun the queen 
had been dead nearly twelve years. Let it be 
added that this baseless hypothesis has "long 
been abandoned. ■ The last writers who ad- 
hered to it date from the revolutionary 
period." * 

But the public partiality for Voltaire's egre- 
gious version is perhaps not wonderful. A 
king's brother in the mask — it was really a 
very fine notion ! The accessories, too, were 

* Funck-Brentano. — In fiction, the system which is an extension 
of Voltaire's has enjoyed, of course, the prepotent championship of 
Dumas, in the novel beloved of Louis Stevenson, The Vicomte de 


all so captivating to the fancy. If that damn- 
ing resemblance to Louis XIV. existed (a pity 
Voltaire could not contrive to prove it ! ), the 
necessity for the mask is patent ; and pray let 
it be, not the "light Venetian mask" of velvet 
which in reality it was, and which was of uni- 
versal use among the upper classes in Italy, 
but the right melodramatic article, the " iron 
mask " with the steel chinpiece, a mediaeval 
instrument of torture, which could not have 
been borne for a week ; and let the poor High- 
ness wear this day and night for four-and-twenty 
years.* This was something like romance! 

Nor was this all. Who parts willingly with 
the other adjuncts which time has grouped 

* I have never seen the old-fashioned play on the subject of i the 
Mask, which, no longer known to London, is still faring up and down 
the country ; a version possibly of the once-admired piece, Le Masque 
de fer, by Fournier and Arnould, first given at the Paris Odeon in 
1 83 1. But, cycling through Canterbury in the falling light of an 
October afternoon, I observed the placid thoroughfares of that city 
aflame with pictures of the drama. Here was the Man in the Iron 
Mask with a vengeance. The mask itself as depicted on the posters 
had the appearance of a small boiler. 


about the indomitable legend ? — the " bound- 
less deference" shown to the prisoner, Saint- 
Mars never seating himself in his presence, 
addressing him " with bared head," serving 
him with his own hands on silver plate, and 
supplying him with "the most luxurious 
raiment his fancy could desire " ; the notable 
tale of the silver dish which the prisoner 
flings out of window, after carving a message 
on it with a knife, and which nearly costs his 
life to the fisherman who restores it ; or the 
version of Pere Papon, in which a shirt of fine 
linen, with a letter written on the inside, takes 
the place of the dish : who yields up willingly 
these lively figments, long as they have gone 
by the board ? 

It is enough to recall the reception, cool in 
some quarters and in others hostile, which those 
scholars met with who first untied the knot. 
Few problems of history have held so many 
vested interests, and no vested interests in a 


problem of history have been more tenaciously 
fought for. What innumerable pens, French 
and alien, were mortgaged in this affair ! Baron 
Heiss's affirmation, the first true note upon 
the Mask in French, was received "with 
indifference." * 

Voltaire, an old man now and jealous high 
priest of his own inspired myth, was moved to 
peevishness. "Why," he cries, "they have 
even given him an Italian name!" Heiss's 
epistle was merely in the nature of a sugges- 
tion, but at last the right word had been uttered. 
The unravelling remained to do, however, and 
for a long time it was a task not less thankless 
than laborious : the true heir was no Prince of 
the blood, and there was no investing him with 
fine linen or feeding him on silver dishes. 
Voltaire's pretender, "young, and with features 
of rare nobility and beauty" ( one 
ever saw them !) was still the fairy hero of the 

*Vte. Maurice Boutry. 


multitude. Came Topin finally, and the fairy 
prince got his coup de grace. Not talent and 
not genius will ever again make a Canterbury 
Tale of the Man in the Iron Mask. History 
lighted her lamp at Topin's hands, and was 
avenged. M. Funck-Brentano has shown con- 
clusively that Topin was right, and has 
furnished the proofs that were still to seek. 
But will the facts uproot the fable ? In 
historical circles in France, discussion on the 
question of the Mask is at an end, but, for 
the general public, there are, as M. Sardou 
says, " The guides, the showmen to reckon 
with — those faithful guardians of legends, 
whose propaganda is more aggressive than 
that of scholars."* And among ourselves the 

* Victorien Sardou. — Preface to Funck-Brentano. M. Sardou adds : 
"When you reflect that every day, at the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite, 
the masked man's cell is exhibited to visitors by a good woman who 
retails all the traditional fables about the luxurious life of the prisoner, 
his lace, his plate, and the attentions shown him by Saint-Mars, you 
will agree that a struggle with this daily discourse would be hopeless. 
And you would not come off with a whole skin ! " — Ibid. 


Voltaire tractate is still occasionally reprinted ; 
Dumas is very much alive ; and audiences at 
country theatres are perennially regaled with 
the spectacle of the suffering prince, his 
head encased in an iron boiler. 

Meanwhile, for those who will read it, the 
true tale as revealed by history is not bereft 
of interest or romance. The treason of the 
rash Italian, who flouted Louis the Magnificent 
in the face of Europe, and was so terribly 
despoiled for the same, needed only its Dumas, 
or our own dear Stevenson, to be borne to the 
rim of the universe. In any event, it seems 
good to speed the Man in the Moon, and admit 
in his place the corporeal Man in the Mask. 





It will be of profit to remember : — 

The Death 

of i. That the mysterious prisoner 

Vennandols. wag nQ myth 

2. That, while quite unknown, legend was 
already busy with him before his death. 

3. That the hypotheses of the 18th century 
are without the support of history. 

4. That since, from the era of the French 
Revolution, access to the Archives became 
possible, these hypotheses have been one by 
one abandoned. 

5. That the expression " iron mask " — 
" masque de fer " — does not occur in any 
official document : it is a " mask," a " velvet 
mask," or a " black velvet mask." 

6. That the tradition of a royal secret, passed 
on from king to king, is disproved. 


7. That the Legend owes everything to the 
imagination of men of letters, that it is en- 
tirely at variance with facts, and that it has 
held its ground by reason mainly of the 
prevailing voice of Voltaire, and the enduring 
fascination of Dumas. 

We can proceed now to determine the source 
and origin of the Legend. In 1745 there 
appeared at Amsterdam, under the auspices of 
the Compagnie des libr aires assoctes, a small 
romance entitled " A Contribution to the 
History of Persia."* It was published anony- 
mously, and the authorship has remained a 
secret. Several critics have assigned it (" not 
without some reason," says M. Funck-Bretano) 
to Madame de Vieux-Maisons ; others to the 
Due de Nivernais ; and others again to the 
Chevalier de Ressegnier, an officer in the 
Guards, whom Madame de Pompadour had 
sent to the Bastille. General lung inclines to 

* " Me" moires secrets pour servir h Phistoire de Perse." 


Paul Lacroix's opinion that Voltaire himself 
was the author. The identity of the author 
is, however, quite unimportant. What is of 
interest is, that this slender novel was very- 
soon the talk of France. It said the first public 
word about that hidden prisoner of Saint-Mars 
whose misfortunes were just beginning to 
entrain attention. 

" Cka-Abas" * says the anonymous author, 
" had a legitimate son, Sdphi-Mirza,\ and a 
natural son, Giafer.% The children were 
almost of an age, but their characters agreed 
in nothing. Giafer was never tired of saying 
that the French were greatly to be pitied for 
their subjection to a monarch who had not 
the wit to rule them. These treasonous 
words were carried to Cha-Abas, but the 
father was stronger in him than the king, 
and he could not bring himself to exert his 

* Louis xiv. 

t Louis the Dauphin. 

X Louis de Bourbon, Comte de Vermandois. 


authority over a son who had abused his 
tenderness. At last, Giafer so far forgot 
himself as to strike Sephi-Mirza in the face. 
This was at once reported to Cha-Abas, 
who, trembling for the culprit, and willing 
even now to overlook the offence, could not 
but regard it as an attempt against himself 
and his crown ; and, as the affair had scan- 
dalised the court, he could no longer yield to 
the promptings of a father's love. He con- 
strained himself, and summoned the most 
intimate of his courtiers ; showed them his 
grief, and demanded their voice upon the 
matter. For a crime of this magnitude, they 
declared, the laws of the State awarded 
death. What a verdict for the doting father ! 
Then, one of the ministers, more sen- 
sible than the others of the affliction of 
Cka-Abas, proffered a means of punishing 
Giafer without putting him to death. 
•' Let the prince,' said this counsellor, ' be 


Louis XIV. at the age of Twenty-Eight. 
From an engraving after Le Bran. 


sent to the army which was then on the 
frontiers of Feldran* Shortly after his arrival 
let it be given out that he had sickened of 
the plague, which would be a sure way of 
detaching from him his friends and admirers, 
and, a few days later, let it be announced 
that the malady had carried him off. Then 
whilst, in the presence of the whole army, his 
obsequies should be celebrated in a manner 
befitting his birth, he must be borne away 
by night, and taken secretly to the citadel 
of the Isle of Ormus! f This advice was 
very generally approved, and above all by 
the afflicted father. Persons faithful and 
discreet were chosen for the conduct of the 
affair ; and Giafer, with a splendid retinue, 
set forth for the army. There it fell out 
as the plot had ordered, and while all the 
camp lamented that untimely fate, the unhappy 

* Flanders. 

t Isles of Sainte- Marguerite, 


prince was hurried by privy ways to the 
Isle of OrmuSy where they delivered him 
into the hands of the governor, whom Cha- 
Abas had commanded that no one should 
ever obtain sight of his prisoner. One 
attendant only, who shared the secret, was 
taken with the prince ; but this man dying 
by the way, the escort slashed his face with 
their poniards that he might not be recog- 
nised, and left him stripped and stark upon 
the road. When Cha-Abas, to reward the 
governor's fidelity, bestowed on him the 
command of the citadel of Ispahan* Giafer 
was removed there. At the Isle of Ormus, 
as in the citadel of Ispahan, he was com- 
pelled to wear a mask when, by reason of 
sickness or for any other cause, it was 
necessary to let him be seen." f 

Such was the story which set all minds 

* The Bastille. 

t Mimoires secrets pour servir h Vhistoire de Perse- 


in France to work upon the enigma of the 
prisoner of Saint-Mars. " No sooner had it 
appeared," says lung, " than the problem of 
the mysterious prisoner became the question 
of the day. Refutations, criticisms, pamphlets, 
letters, memoirs, and ever new solutions 
succeeded one another rapidly from 1750 to 
1790." The " History of Persia" continued 
to be credited even after Voltaire's more 
romantic nonsense had seduced the multitude. 
Let us examine its pretensions. It repre- 
sents, as Topin observes, a kind of com- * 
promise between the impossibility of accepting 
the imaginary hero of Voltaire and the desire 
to see in the Masked Man some person of 
exalted birth. 

In Vermandois we have at all events a live 
man, and the natural son of a King to boot. 
His mother was that beautiful and sympathetic 
Louise de la Valliere who touches us more 
closely than any other of the heroines of 



the court of Louis XIV. Yielding with re- 
luctance to the passion of the King, la Valliere 
was no courtesan and no fortune-hunting ad- 
venturess. Strong in her very weakness, 
she subjugated without art or wile the most 
imperious sovereign in Europe, and from the 
torments of a love, ceaselessly combated, she 
passed to the rigors of a penance courageously 
endured for thirty years. Sweetest and most 
captivating figure of the great reign, she has 
engaged the hearts of posterity.* 

The graces of the mother were innate in 
Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vermandois. 
Tall and finely formed, he possessed la Val- 
liere's instinctive gift of pleasing. Kindly and 
generous, he had his own peculiar ways of 
conferring favours, arid the most fastidious 
of men, it was said, could never reject or be 
offended by his benefits. From a child he 
had the love of Louis XIV., who was as proud 

* Topin. 

JL>i ( tt ( otwlra 1/ le iS. o , i {*'&'}. v 

lllillll illlllll 

Louis, Comte de Vermandois. 
From an engraving after Mignard. 


as he was tender of him. In the army, he 
won the officers as completely as he had won 
the common soldiers, and his personal courage 
was of the highest ; with the troops in 
Flanders, on one occasion, he concealed a grave 
malady, that he might not miss his part in 
an attack. As if under the influence of that 
subtle warning which often strikes those whose 
death is to be premature, he seemed eager to 
ensure for his memory the renown of some 
signal act : but his day was too short for glory. 
A posthumous celebrity of a most uncommon 
kind was, however, in store for him. Sixty 
years after his death, it occurred — Heaven 
knows how ! — to the unknown author of these 
Memoires secrets pour servir a Fhistoire de 
Perse to add to the too-brief life of the gra- 
cious Vermandois twenty years of captivity in 
prison, and to render his destiny sadder by 
presenting him as the incognizable victim of 
Louis XIV.'s tyranny. 


What proofs, or failing proofs, what proba- 
bilities does the story carry ? In the 
seventh volume of Mdlle. de Montpensier's 
interminable " Memoirs " there is a definite 
statement that Vermandois was under a cloud 
at court when he set out for the siege of 
Courtrai ; that the King, annoyed about his 
gallantries in the town, and the company the 
young man kept, had banished him from the 
presence. There is no word of a quarrel 
with the Dauphin, or of a blow in the face, 
a scandal which could scarcely have re- 
mained unknown to Mdlle. de Montpensier, 
and one which, since she was no friend to the 
brilliant Vermandois,* she would not have 
scrupled to divulge. As for Vermandois's 
pretended disgrace, and the King's refusal to 
see him, we find that on the earliest rumour of 
his illness at Courtrai, Louis sends word that 

* " I was not sorry for the death of M. de Vermandois," she says 
in this same volume of the Mdmoires. 


he is to be brought back to court as quickly as 
possible, " where he can be surrounded with 
every care."* 

" Is there need," asks Topin, " to insist 
upon the impossibility of admitting that a son 
and heir of Louis XIV. could receive the 
gravest insult in the midst of the court, and 
no allusion be made to the fact by a single 
contemporary writer ? " Further to diminish 
the probability of the tale, the author of the 
Me'moires Secrets shows us in Vermandois, that 
mirror of courteous chivalry, an unmannerly 
and treasonable cub, unable to keep his hands 
from the brother who was one day to be his 
king. Finally, the brothers are described as 
" d pen pres du meme age" whereas there were 
six years between them ; Vermandois at the 
period of this display of ungovernable temper 
being but sixteen, while the Dauphin was 
already the father of the Due de Bourgogne. 

* The King to the Marquis de Montchevreuil, Nov. 4, 1683. 


The untimely death of Vermandois is a fact 
that cannot be disputed, nor is there in his last 
earthly moments, or in the transport of his 
remains to Arras, where they were interred, 
a circumstance which provokes the faintest 
degree of suspicion. 

It was on the 6th of November, 1683, 
that the young Count took to his bed at 
Courtrai. He had been sickening for 
some days, but would not admit it, so deter- 
mined was he to take part in the attack on 
Menin, " where he gave proofs of the highest 

His fever increased rapidly ; on the 12th of 
the month Marshal d'Humieres communicated 
his condition to the minister Louvois ; on the 
13th word was sent to the court. Three days 
later, on the 16th, it is announced* that the 
patient has just received the sacrament, and 

* Archives du ministere de la guerre. De Boufflers a Louvois, 
Cited by Topin. 

Louise de la Valliere, as a Carmelite Nun. 
From an engraving after D. a. Plaats. 


that ton riespere plies que dans sa jeunesse. 
On the second day from this, November 18th, 
the son of la Valliere died of malignant fever 
in the presence of Marshal d'Humieres, the 
Marquis de Montchevreuil, and Lieutenant- 
General Boufflers. " In the camp, distress was 
general. They wept for the good he had 
achieved, and for the promises of greatness 
unfulfilled." Mademoiselle de la Valliere " is 
all day at the foot of her crucifix." 

On the 27th of November, before an im- 
mense and brilliant crowd of witnesses, Ver- 
mandois was laid with pomp in the choir of 
the cathedral church of Arras. By the King's 
command, a requiem mass was said in the 
same place every day during the remainder of 
the year ; and provision was ordered to be 
made for a solemn service, preceded by vigils, 
on the 1 8th of November, each year, "a 
perpetuite." Doles were to be given to the 
poor of Arras on this day, "that they might 


pray for the soul's welfare of the Comte de 
Vermandois." Up to the year of the Re- 
volution, 1789, all these stipulations of the act 
drawn up with the chapter of the cathedral, in 
the name of Louis XIV., " were scrupulously 

To sum up. If the amiable and chivalrous 
Vermandois struck the Dauphin, as the legend 
of the " Contribution to the History of Persia " 
maintains, the proof has not come down to 
us. If for this deed Louis XIV. condemned 
a favourite son to lifelong imprisonment, the 
proof is not less in request. The dispatches 
concerning the successive phases of the illness 
of Vermandois, his death at Courtrai, his burial 
in the cathedral of Arras, are in existence. 
And, as regards Louis XIV. (who held such 
things profoundly sacred), what an awful and 
most impious derision is in that pomp of burial, 
and in those masses celebrated during a 
hundred years, if the coffin in the choir were 


tenantless, and Vermandois a living prisoner in 
the dungeon of Pignerol ! 

There is but to add that this version of the 
mystery, adopted by Freron in 1768, and by 
the unknown author of the Histoire du fils dun 
Roi y in 1789, has lain for above a century in 
well-merited neglect. 



The systeme Vermandois was a choice 


Ewer Brother regale in its way, but a dish more de- 
and lectable was preparing. The Legend 

the Twin. 

was not to be world-famous till it 
had made of the Iron Mask a brother of 
Louis XIV. Of this system there were 
several branches. Thus, the Mask was : — 

i. A son of Anne of Austria and some 
lover undiscovered. 

2. A son of Anne of Austria and the 
Duke of Buckingham. 

3. A son of Anne of Austria and Cardinal 
Mazarin ; 


4. A twin brother of Louis XIV. 


Later, under the First Empire, there were 
new and very elegant conceits. Taking up 
the theory of the twin brother, the Baron de 
Gleichen had asserted, and had been at pains 
to prove, "that it was the true heir to the 
throne who was put out of sight, to the profit 
of a child of the Queen and the Cardinal. 
Having become masters of the situation on 
the death of the King [Louis XIII.], they 
substituted their son for the Dauphin, the 
substitution being facilitated by a strong 
likeness between the children."* The dire con- 
sequences of this hypothesis strike the eye 
at once : it nullifies in the most absolute 
fashion the legitimacy of all the remaining 

After a period of repose in the shades, the 
ghost of the Baron de Gleichen awoke and 
stalked forth into the First Empire, where all 
the talents were probing the dust of the Man 

* Funck-Brentano. 



in the Iron Mask. Here is the contribution of 
the Baron's ghost to the bewildering topic of 
debate. " Louis XIV. had been a mere bastard, 
the child of foreigners. The lawful heir had 
been imprisoned at the Isles of Sainte- 
Marguerite, where he had married the daughter 
of one of his gaolers. Of this marriage a child 
was born, who, as soon as he was weaned, was 
despatched to Corsica, and there entrusted to a 
safe person, as a child coming of ' good stock ' 
— in Italian, Buona-parte. It is from this child 
that the Emperor was directly descended. The 
true claim of Napoleon I. to the throne of 
France established by the Iron Mask ! — How 
came the great Dumas to miss that great 
discovery ? " * 

Note has been made of the suggestion that 
Voltaire was the author of the unsigned 
" Contribution to the History of Persia." He 
affected to treat it in public as an " obscure, 

* Funck-Brentano. 


ridiculous pamphlet," but he was exceedingly 
quick to appreciate the interest it had aroused. 
Surely that tale of Vermandois and the Dauphin, 
and the fond King who would not slay his son, 
might be improved upon ! Now Voltaire had, 
as Matthew Arnold says of Macaulay, "his 
own heightened and telling way of putting 
things " ; and of that heightened and telling 
way of his there is no more effective illustration 
than the surmise upon the Mask with which he 
witched the world. People have gone on re- 
peating it — not as surmise but as history — even 
to the present day. In how many minds does 
not the mention of the Man in the Iron Mask 
conjure up the image of a brother of the Grand 
Monarque ? This story, nevertheless, is un- 
supported by any document that ever yet was 
vouched for ; not in all the archives of France 
is there one single piece to stay it on ; nor 
will it tally (and this were indispensable) 

with the dates of the changing periods in 

4 # 


Saint- Mars's career. In a word, from the 
day that the State papers of France became 
available, no seeker of the truth could 
continue his belief in the divination of 
Voltaire : so far as criticism was concerned 
it perished, accordingly, in the cataclysm of 
the Revolution. 

Let us see how adroitly Voltaire went to 
work. In the first edition of his " Age of 
Louis XIV.," published in 1751, he wrote: — 
" Some months after the death of Mazarin, an 
event happened which is without a parallel in 
history. Moreover, and this is not less re- 
markable, the event has been passed over in 
silence by every historian. There was sent 
with the utmost secrecy to the castle of the Isles 
of Sainte-Marguerite, in the Sea of Provence, 
a prisoner unknown, of a stature above the 
average, young, and with features of rare 
nobility and beauty. On the way, the prisoner 
wore a mask, the chinpiece of which was 


After De la Tour. 


furnished with springs of steel, so that he 
could eat without removing it. Order had 
been given to kill him if he ventured to 
uncover. He remained at the Isles until a 
trusted officer, Saint-Mars by name, governor 
of Pignerol, having been appointed in 1690 to 
the command of the Bastille, came to Sainte- 
Marguerite to fetch him, and bore him thence — 
always in his mask — to the Bastille. Before 
his removal, he was seen in the Isle by the 
Marquis de Louvois, who remained standing 
while he spoke to him with a consideration 
savouring of respect. In the Bastille, the 
unknown was as well bestowed as was possible 
in that place, and nothing that he asked for was 
refused him. He had a passion for lace and 
fine linen ; he amused himself with the guitar ; 
and his table was furnished with the best. The 
governor rarely sat down in his presence. 
An old doctor of the Bastille, who had often 
attended this interesting prisoner, said that, 


although he had examined his tongue and the 
rest of his body, he had never seen his face. 
He was admirably made, said the doctor, and 
his skin was of a brownish tint. He spoke 
charmingly, with a voice of a deeply interesting 
quality; never complaining of his lot, and 
never letting it be guessed who he was. This 
unknown captive died in 1703, and was buried 
by night in the parish of Saint- Paul. What is 
doubly astonishing is this : that when he was 
sent to Sainte- Marguerite there did not dis- 
appear from Europe any personage of note. 
This was he, beyond a doubt, for observe what 
happened within a few days of his arrival 
at the Isle. The governor himself laid the 
prisoner's table, and then withdrew and locked 
the door. One day the prisoner wrote some- 
thing with a knife on a silver plate, and threw 
the plate out of the window towards a boat on 
the shore, almost at the foot of the tower. 
A fisherman, to whom the boat belonged, picked 


up the plate and carried it to the governor, 
who, surprised beyond measure, asked the 
man : ' Have you read what is written on this 
plate, and has anyone seen it in your hands ? ' 
1 I cannot read,' answered the fisherman ; ' I 
have only just found it, and no one else has 
seen it.' He was detained until the governor 
had made sure that he could not read, and that 
no other person had seen the plate. ' Go,' he 
then said, ' It is well for you that you cannot 
read.'" * 

It will be seen that Voltaire does not say 

* The reader will be interested in comparing with this the version 
which Pere Papon gives in his Histoire Ge'ne'ralede Provence. Here, it will 
be observed, the issue is more tragical. Says Father Papon : "I met 
in the Citadel an officer of the Free Company, aged seventy-nine. He 
told me more than once that a frater of that company saw one day, 
under the prisoner's window, some white thing floating on the water. 
He brought it to shore, and carried it to M. de Saint-Mars. It was a 
shirt of very fine linen, carelessly folded, which the prisoner had com- 
pletely covered with writing. Unfolding it, and reading a few lines, 
M. de Saint-Mars, with an air of great embarrassment, asked the frater 
if he had not had the curiosity to read it himself. The frater declared 
over and over again that he had read nothing ; nevertheless, two days 
later, he was found dead in his bed." 


as yet who his extraordinary prisoner was. 
" He observed the impression his story had 
produced. Then, growing bolder, he in- 
sinuated in the first edition of the ' Questions 
on the Encyclopaedia' that, if the prisoner 
were masked, it was a precaution taken to 
prevent the recognition of a certain striking 
likeness. He still withheld the name, but 
every ear was straining now for some impos- 
ing revelation." * 

It came at last, in the second edition 
of the " Questions on the Encyclopaedia." 
This time Voltaire, afraid to captain his 
fantasy, took cover behind his publisher. 
The paragraph had better be translated at 
length : — 

" The Iron Mask was without doubt a 
brother, and an elder brother, of Louis XIV., 
whose mother had that taste for fine linen 
with which M. de Voltaire has re-enforced his 

* Funck-Brentano. 


case.* Reading the contemporary Memoirs in 
which this anecdote of the Queen finds men- 
tion, I had not a doubt that this was her son, a 
conclusion to which various other circumstances 
had already guided me. It is known that 
Louis XIII. had long ceased to share the 
Queen's couch, and that the birth of Louis 
XIV. was the fruit of a happy accident. 
Here, as I believe, is the history of the affair : 
The Queen had come to persuade herself that 
hers alone was the fault which had deprived 
Louis XIII. of an heir. The birth of the 
Iron Mask undeceived her on that point. 
The Cardinal,f to whom she had confided 
her secret, saw where his advantage lay in 
it. He could shape it at once to his own 

*"It was made to appear — although nothing has ever been 
advanced in proof — that the Mask was addicted to the wearing of 
fine linen ; and Anne of Austria, we know, was particularly fond of 
laces and embroideries. But this taste is not exactly confined to 
royal families, and is perhaps a little insufficient to convict a queen of 
adultery." — Vte. Maurice Boutry. 

t Richelieu. 


profit and to the profit of the State. Satisfied, 
by what had occurred, that the Queen was 
able to give children to France, he arranged 
to bring her Majesty and the King together. 
But both Queen and Cardinal being equally 
persuaded of the necessity of concealing from 
Louis XIII. the existence of the Iron Mask, 
they had the child removed in secret. 
Louis XIV. remained in ignorance of the 
matter until after the death of Cardinal 
Mazarin. Then, and not till then, did it 
come to the knowledge of the King that 
he had a brother living, an elder brother, more- 
over, whom his mother could not possibly 
disown, and in whom some signal likeness 
might not improbably declare his origin. 
Reflecting that this Prince, born in wedlock, 
could not, without the gravest consequences 
and most dire scandal, be pronounced illegiti- 
mate after the decease of Louis XIII., 
Louis XIV. could have fallen on no measure 

Anne of Austria. 


wiser or more just than the one which he 
adopted ; and that measure, in addition, while 
securing his own safety and the tranquillity 
of the State, spared him an act of cruelty 
which a sovereign less conscientious and 
less magnanimous would have accepted as 

" What unlikelinesses, what contradictions, 
what abounding errors have we here," ex- 
claims Topin, within the compass of a page or 
two ! This strange unknown whom no one is 
allowed to look upon, whose doctor even 
may never see him unmasked, yet who is 
confidently asserted to be beautiful and noble 
of feature : Saint-Mars appointed to the 
Bastille in 1690 (eight years before he received 
that command), and traversing all France 
to seek a prisoner for whom, during twenty- 
eight years, some other gaoler has sufficed : 
this mask with the steel springs which covers 
the prisoner's visage night and day without 


destroying his health : that beatific resigna- 
tion to his lot, and unwillingness to disclose 
his identity, on the part of a prisoner who 
flings silver plates out of window after com- 
mitting to them some history which all but 
sends the governor into an apoplexy : her 
Majesty's taste for fine linen, so extremely 
unfortunate, since it is presently to be trans- 
formed into invincible proof of the birth of 
an unlawful child : this Queen, again, who has 
been already three times enceinte, heaping 
herself with reproaches that she can give 
the King no heir : her infatuated resolve to 
share with Richelieu, a sworn enemy, the 
secret of a guilty intrigue : a Queen of France, 
in the momentous hour of child-birth, with no 
confidant but the prime minister : and these 
two tremendous events, the birth and stealthy 
removal of a royal child, so shrewdly dis- 
simulated that not a single Memoir of the 
period has mention of them — these are 


among the first reflections which this amazing 
narrative suggests.* 

And now for the history, not less diverting 
and equally veracious, of the Twin. This is 
the invention wrought by the Abbe Soulavie 
into his apocryphal Memoir es du Marechal 
Due de Richelieu, first published in London 
in 1790. Written in a not inelegant French, 
we are asked to accept it as the composition 
of Saint-Mars,f who, incapable of a literary 
sentence, groaned over the spelling of a six- 
line despatch. 

" The unhappy Prince whom I brought up," 
said the governor, " and of whom I had charge 
to the end of his days, was born the 5th of 
September, 1638, at half-past eight in the 
evening, while the King was at supper. 

* Adapted from Topin. 

t " Relation de la naissance et de l'education du prince infortune 
soustrait par les cardinaux Richelieu et Mazarin a la societe et ren- 
ferme par l'ordre de Louis XIV., composed par le gouverneur de ce 
prince au lit de mort." — M<?m., vol. III., ch. iv. 


His brother, now reigning as Louis XIV., 
was born at twelve noon, his father being at 
dinner. The pomp and ceremony which 
attended the birth of the King contrasted 
wretchedly with that of his brother, which 
was closely concealed. Louis XIII. was in- 
formed from the Queen's chamber that her 
Majesty was about to be delivered of a second 
child ; and this double birth had already been 
predicted to him by two shepherds, who had 
said in Paris that if the Queen should bring 
two Dauphins into the world, the State were 
lost. Cardinal de Richelieu, consulted by 
the King, replied that, " if two children were 
born, the second must be put out of sight, 
since he might one day claim the throne. 
Tormented by uncertainty as to what course 
he should follow, the King's distress was 
overwhelming when the pains of the second 
accouchement began." The twin was born, 
" daintier and prettier than his elder," and the 


midwife was charged with his safe keeping ! 
Where the luckless infant was secreted we 
are not told ; merely that dame Peronnette, 
the pearl of midwives, reared him as one of 
her own, and that he was given out for some 
nobleman's love-child : an ideally simple little 
method of disposing of a Child of France. 

At first, it is the great Richelieu him- 
self who undertakes the education of this 
untimely prince, destined, in the event 
of the Dauphin's death, to succeed to 
the throne. Then, to resume the legend 
so absurdly fathered on Saint-Mars, " the 
cardinal confided him to the governor, who 
was to bring him up as the son of a king, 
but in strict secrecy. The governor took him 
to his own estate in Burgundy. The Queen- 
mother seemed to fear that if the birth of this 
young Dauphin became known the malcontents 
of the kingdom would rise in his behalf, because 
of the belief (held from certain of the faculty) 



that the last-born of twin brothers is the first 
conceived, and, in consequence, the rightful 
heir. Nevertheless, Anne of Austria could 
not bring herself to destroy the documents 
which established the birth of her son. At 
the age of nineteen, this State secret was dis- 
covered by the prince while spying in a casket 
of his governor, where he came upon letters 
of the Queen and of the Cardinals Richelieu 
and Mazarin. . . . 

" The governor wrote to the Court asking 
for instructions, and both he and his charge 
were ordered to be imprisoned," &c. 

Soulavie has had for his principal supporters 
Dulaure, in his Histoire de Paris (1821) ; 
Fournier and Arnould, in the drama put for- 
ward at the Odeon ; Alexandre Dumas, in the 
Vicomte de Bragelonne ; Levasseur, in a volume 
of the Memoir es pour Tons (1835) ; and the 
historians Sismondi and Michelet. 

These, then, are the two main branches of 


the system which sets up the Iron Mask as 
a brother of Louis XIV. ; Voltaire's prevailing 
story of an elder brother, with Mazarin as the 
putative father ; and Soulavie's creation, more 
romanesque, if possible, of the twin who 
vanishes in the instant of his appearance. 
With these is linked, and will fall naturally 
into line, the story of the Queen and 
Buckingham. Topin sets out upon his refu- 
tation of the entire system by asking when 
and in what circumstances this most equi- 
vocal brother of Louis XIV. — whether elder 
or twin — could have contrived to slip unseen 
into the world ? His birth has been placed 
at three different dates. Choice may be 
made, for instance, of 1625, after the famous 
visit of the Duke of Buckingham to France ; 
of 1 63 1, following on that grave sickness of 
Louis XIII., which had given rise to fears 
that his hated brother, Gaston d'Orleans, 
might be called to the throne ; or, lastly, 


1638, eight or nine hours after the birth of 
Louis XIV. If the refutation is to be 
decisive, it should leave no doubt upon the 
mind that the birth of another Dauphin was 
as mythical as his subsequent misfortunes. 





It was in May, 1625, that the 
brilliant Buckingham went to Paris, 
charged by Charles I. to conduct 
to England his bride Henrietta 
Maria. Charles's ambassador had been wel- 
comed in advance by Louis XIII. " I do 
assure you," that King had written, " you will 
be regarded here, not as a stranger, but as a 
true Frenchman, for indeed you are one at 
heart." And Richelieu had said to the Marquis 
d'Effiat : " M. de Buckingham will find in me a 
brother." Indeed, Buckingham knew France 
well, and had acquired in that country not a 
little of the grace and gloss of manner which 
have been worth so much to his memory. 


We are not at this day to bestow much praise 
upon this elegant and handsome trifler, no 
fit counsellor for kings, though he had been 
counsellor to two ; but the courtier shone very 
fine in him, and he was an eminently splendid 
figure in a pageant. He made a superb 
entry at the Court of France, " with more 
pomp and glitter than if he had been King," 
says La Rochefoucauld. Madame de Motteville 
adds that the Duke seemed to have treasuries 
at command, and all the Crown Jewels of 
England to heighten the splendour of his 
wardrobe. In the first volume of the Hard- 
wicke State Papers is an account of the 
" vastly rich cloaths " he took with him, " the 
number of his servants, and of the noble 
Personages in his train." A suit of purple 
satin, " embroidered all over with rich orient 
pearls," was valued at .£20,000, and another 
of " white satin uncut velvet, set all over 
with diamonds," at four times that amount. 


Paris was amazed at the prodigality of 
his display. Certain jewels on the costumes 
that he changed incessantly were sewn 
with such ingenious lack of skill that they 
detached themselves and rolled away, " and 
when they were brought back to him the Duke 
would by no means receive them." Great 
noblemen were in his suite ; he had seven 
grooms of the chamber, thirty chief yeomen, 
and twenty-two cooks, with pages, footmen, 
grooms, huntsmen, outriders, musicians, and 
watermen. Three coaches lined with velvet 
and smothered in gold lace had eight horses 
and six coachmen apiece ; and the Duke had 
his barge, with twenty-two rowers " all in sky- 
coloured tafTety." What with his attendant 
knights, and the pages of the knights, his train 
numbered six or seven hundred persons. He 
was the hero of the town and of the court. 

Dazzled, it may have been, by his own 
magnificence, giddy with the flatteries that were 


lavished on him, Buckingham at the Court of 
Louis XIII. could see none worthy of his own 
homage but the young, charming, and vivacious 
Queen. He fell violently in love with Anne of 
Austria, who was now between twenty-four 
and twenty-five years of age. ' The Queen, 
being a Spaniard, was a natural coquette ; 
and Madame de Motteville, than whom no 
one knew her better, says that Anne of Austria 
was not disposed to blame a certain open 
and honest gallantry " ou on ne prend aucun 
engagement particulier " — in other words, 
which involves no notion of compromise. 
" She accepted with a certain kindness and 
no seeming surprise a passion which, while 
evoking memories of her own country, and 
even pleasing her amour-propre, offered no 
peril to her virtue." If, however, the 
numerous fetes in Buckingham's honour 
brought him often in the presence of the 
Queen, the Court was witness of their meet- 

George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, and his Assassination. 

From an engraving after C. Johnson. 


ings ; and though this was a circumstance 
which Buckingham might regret, it justified the 
confidence of her Majesty. 

A week of great parade came to an end, 
and Henrietta Maria, gorgeously escorted, 
began her progress towards England. 
Louis XIII., falling unwell, got no farther 
than Compiegne. Anne of Austria, with her 
mother-in-law, Marie de Medici, accompanied 
the bride to Amiens, where the ballets, the 
masques, and the banquets were renewed. 
Buckingham, it is said, invented causes of 
delay, that he might still be haunting the 
skirts of Anne. As Amiens contained no 
palace capable of lodging three queens 
together, their Majesties were separately 
housed ; Anne of Austria in a sumptuous 
building in the midst of a great garden on the 
banks of the Somme. Here the young Queen 
and her Court would often stroll, and here she 
found herself with Buckingham one evening, 


but not alone. Lord Holland had the Duchesse 
de Chevreuse on his arm, and all the ladies 
of the Queen's suite were in attendance. 
Buckingham conducted Anne ; and it would 
appear that, emboldened by the nearness 
of their hour of separation, he grew more 
ardent in his suit. Night was falling, and at 
the turning of an alley he threw himself at the 
Queen's feet and besought her passionately. 
She, " alarmed, and alive on a sudden to the 
danger she was in, gave a loud cry ; and 
Putange, her equerry, who was walking a 
few paces behind, rushed up and seized 
Buckingham. In a moment the whole Court 
was on the scene, and Buckingham disappeared 
in the crowd." * 

Two days later, Hei^rietta Maria was on her 
way to Boulogne ; Marie de Medici, her 
mother, and Anne of Austria, her sister-in-law, 
going with her to the gates of Amiens. It 

* Topin. 


was on the step of Anne's carriage that 
Buckingham said his farewell ; " burying his 
face in the window-curtain to conceal his 
tears." The Princesse de Conti, who rode with 
the Queen, said to her (on Madame de Motte- 
ville's assurance), that, "although she could 
answer to the King for the virtue of her 
Majesty, she would say less for her on the 
score of kindness — and she thought the 
Queen's eyes held a kind of pity for the 
defeated lover." 

But Anne had not seen quite the last of him. 
Contrary winds stayed Charles's bride at 
Boulogne, and Buckingham the proud, who 
had stormed Paris in a cuirass of diamonds, 
crept back to Amiens, with Lord Holland for 
accomplice, pretending that a letter of import- 
ance for Marie de Medici had been forgotten. 
It was early morning when he presented him- 
self at Anne's palace; and the Queen, who had 
just been bled for some ailment, was in bed, 


with several of her ladies about her. In royal 
houses, up to the era of the Revolution, the 
bed-chamber was scarcely more private than 
the boudoir, and Buckingham and Holland 
were introduced. Buckingham " fell on his 
knees at the bedside, kissed the coverlet, and 
broke into a transport of passion, greatly to 
the scandal of the maids of honour. The 
Comtesse de Lannoi, entreating him to rise, 
said severely that these were not French 
ways." " I am not a Frenchman," replied 
the Duke, and he continued to plead tenderly 
with the Queen. Her Majesty, greatly em- 
barrassed, could find nothing to say, until she 
roused herself to reproach the Duke for his 
boldness. But this she did with no great show 
of indignation, and her heart was perhaps not 
quite untouched." * Buckingham returned to 
Boulogne, and never saw Anne of Austria 

* Topin. 


These are the two memorable scenes of 
Amiens with which scandal was once very- 
busy, but with which history, seeking proofs, 
was never seriously concerned. During the 
troubles of the Fronde, and the heat of civil 
war, the hint of a criminal love between 
Buckingham and the Queen, whose honour he 
would very willingly have spoiled, was bruited 
often ; but all the evidence goes to show that 
Anne of Austria outwitted a passionate, 
unscrupulous gallant, and was never for an 
instant his victim. A kind of Spanish tender- 
ness she may have felt for him, and we may 
suspect her of no small skill in flirtation ; but, 
as there is no particle of evidence to adduce, 
accusation may go no farther. It is abundantly 
clear that, so far as Buckingham was con- 
cerned, the Queen was never without witnesses 
to her conduct. Marie de Medici, who bore 
her daughter-in-law no very goodwill at this 
period, took upon herself to assure Louis XIII. 


that he need not concern himself with rumour; 
that even if the Queen had been willing to 
demean herself she was so perpetually sur- 
rounded that the opportunity could never 
have offered. As for the impetuous indis- 
cretions of Buckingham, the Queen had not 
encouraged and could not well have prevented 
them : in her younger days, said Madame de 
Medici to her son, such things had happened 
to herself.* Madame might have added that 
the Due de Montmorency and the Due de 
Bellegarde had both been in love with the 
fascinating Queen of Louis XIII., and that 
neither of them had fared one whit better than 

Says Topin: — " Nothing seems to accuse the 
Queen save the persistent coldness towards her 
of Louis XIII. But does this conduct date 
from the visit of Buckingham to Paris ? Was 
Louis so completely estranged from the Queen 

* Memoires of La Porte. 


as has been supposed ? And may we seek in 
this the proof of an act of infidelity on the 
Queen's part, whether with Buckingham in 
1625, as the result of love, or with some person 
unknown, in 1630, as the result of deliberate 
calculation, and to the end that, after the death 
of Louis XIII., which at that moment seemed 
imminent, she might reign in the name of her 
illegitimate child, who, on the King's un- 
expected recovery, must be hidden away, to 
become later the Man in the Iron Mask ?" 



Born within eight days of one 

The Acquittal 

0l another, Anne of Austria, Infanta 
the queen. Q f Spain, and Louis, Dauphin of 
France, may be said to have been pledged 
in infancy. Astrologers had announced that, 
delivered under one star, they were des- 
tined to love each other, married or not 
married. The little Anne lent a willing ear 
to the wise men's predictions ; and when, at 
the age of twelve, she was bidding good-bye 
to the Due de Mayenne, who had come to 
Madrid to sign the marriage contract, she 
instructed him to tell the King that she was 
"extremely impatient to see him." Her 
governess was shocked, but the Infanta replied 
that it had always been recommended to her 
to speak the truth. Two years later, in 1615, 


she was a bride of fourteen, and as enthusiastic 
as ever about the boy she had married. 

Much less enthusiastic was the boy. He 
had always declared that he hated the 
Spaniards, " because they are the enemies of 
Papa " ; and on two occasions, when his father, 
Henri IV., talked to him of his future marriage 
with the Infanta, he gave stubborn answers in 
the negative. He was grave and observant 
for his years, intolerant of the King's mistresses 
who tried to conciliate him, and precociously 
fierce against their children, whom he would 
not call his brothers and would not suffer at 
his table. After the death of Henry IV., the 
boy-King shewed himself less and less in 
sympathy with the gross speech and habits of 
the Court, and was fonder of hawking than of 

The idea of marriage seems always to have 
repelled him, and after four years of wedded 
life, Anne was a wife only to the extent that 


the church had made her one. The conduct 
of the King had become, indeed, almost a 
question of State. His determined abstention 
had moved the French Court, it had offended 
the Court of Spain, it was regarded as a slight 
by the papal nuncio and the Court of Tuscany, 
whose aid had been considerable in bringing 
about the union. 

In January, 1619, some kind of rapproche- 
ment seems to have been effected, but the 
hopes that were built on it were disappointed. 
Again in 1622 it was said with confidence 
that an heir to the throne might be expected, 
but almost immediately afterwards the Queen 
was the victim of an accident. The visit of 
Buckingham left the King unmoved, and had 
no result in modifying his relations with the 
Queen. Having freed himself from his 
mother's yoke, Louis XIII. passed absolutely 
under that of Richelieu ; and jealously as the 
cardinal-minister watched the young sovereign, 

Louis XIII. 


he was yet more jealous in his surveillance of 
the Queen, an object of his implacable resent- 
ment. Is it possible for one moment to believe 
in an intrigue of hers, with Buckingham, with 
Mazarin, or with another, which Richelieu 
fails to know of, whose spies penetrated to the 
inmost recesses of the Court ? And knowing 
it, would he have hesitated an instant to ruin 
the woman whom he hated, by confiding his 
knowledge to the King ? 

Let us consider next the circumstances of 
the illness of Louis XIII. in 1630. The King 
fell ill at Lyons, not, says Topin, at the 
beginning of August (which has been asserted), 
but on the 22nd of September; " and here 
the dates are of the utmost importance." On 
the 29th, an exhausting dysentery added itself 
to a severe attack of fever, and at midnight 
the doctors despaired of saving him. He took 
a tender farewell of the Queen, and entreated 
her forgiveness for all things. Towards noon 


of the next day the King still lingered, and 
the Archbishop of Lyons was preparing to 
administer extreme unction, when the doctors, 
who had already bled the enfeebled body six 
times, ordered a seventh bleeding. This 
would assuredly have carried off the patient, 
but before the operation could be performed 
the true cause of the malady revealed itself: 
an abscess in the stomach broke, and the 
King was saved. 

On his recovery, Louis XIII. quitted Lyons 
with the Queen, whose unaffected tender- 
ness and solicitude at his sick bed had 
touched him closely. " In that crisis, both 
had forgotten the past. The coldness of the 
one was overcome, the wounded pride of the 
other was healed." Exulting in her unwonted 
empire, it was not enough for the Queen to 
have won a tardy place in her husband's 
heart ; she desired to complete her triumph 
by casting down the minister who had -opposed 


himself between them, and, at one moment, 
she had nearly been successful — but the King 
could rule only by the Cardinal. 

In January, 1631, the Queen was manifestly 
enceinte. Supposing this the result of a 
criminal intrigue, at what date should the 
commencement of the pregnancy be placed ? 

" Is it, as was asserted, at the moment and 
by reason of the apparently imminent death 
of Louis XIII.? But the Queen was delivered 
within the first five days of April ; consequently 
the child, conceived the 30th of September, 
would by no means have attained the full 
period, and could not, therefore, have become 
the Man in the Iron Mask.* Was it on the 
arrival of Louis XIII. at Lyons early in the 
August of 1630? But at this date, Anne of 
Austria had not the vital motive for becoming 
a mother, which, according to her accusers, 

* The medical science of the present day might succeed in saving 
such a child ; but the chances would be very slight indeed. 


she had on the 30th of September, when the 
King lay on the threshold of death. Either, 
then, the child is born incapable of living, 
or its conception mounts to an epoch which 
makes Louis XIII. the father, because the 
Queen had no need to procure herself an heir 
by unlawful means." 

The truth is, that this, the third pregnancy 
of Anne of Austria, traces to the reconciliation 
which followed on the desperate illness of 
the King. Richelieu himself is a witness here. 
" If France should be blessed with this 
fortune," he wrote, "it will be the fruit of 
God's blessing, and of the kindly relations 
established of late between his Majesty and 
the Queen." * Not a word on Richelieu's part 
which inculpates or seeks to inculpate the 

* Lett res et papier s de Richelieu. Found among the letters and 
documents which passed from the hands of the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, 
Richelieu's niece, to the Archives de VEtat, and which were published 
by the learned Avenet in his collection of Documents inedits de 
Vhistoire de France. 


Queen, and it has been observed with justice, 
that history could never hope to be better 
instructed than that " clairvoyant and pitiless 


Not for seven years were the ardent hopes 
of the nation to be realised. On the 5th of 
September, 1638, Anne of Austria gave birth 
to a son who was to ascend the throne as 
Louis XIV. This is also the day which has 
been assigned to the birth of the Iron Mask 
by those who, rejecting the theory of an 
illegitimate child, have pronounced for that 
of a twin brother, born in the evening, " and 
condemned, for his tardy arrival, to perpetual 
imprisonment." The problem of the twin is 
briefly to be considered. In no country in 
Europe, perhaps, was the birth of a royal child 
more jealously scrutinised, more elaborately 
and minutely attested, than in the France of 
the Monarchy. Such an event might over- 
whelm the expectations of a collateral heir, 


or might ruin the prospects of a party. 
Precautions the most extraordinary were 
employed, precautions which may be said, 
practically, to have excluded the possibility 
of fraud or deception. Not only were the 
greatest persons in the State compelled to be 
eye-witnesses of the event, but the people 
itself was summoned " to assist "at the birth 
of the Child of France. The doors of the 
royal dwelling were flung open in this solemn 
hour, the people thronged in, and passed freely 
into the innermost chambers of the palace. 
Madame Campan relates how, at the birth 
of the first child of Marie Antoinette, the room 
in which the Queen lay was so intolerably 
crowded that Louis XVI. broke a window 
to let in more air. Indeed, this practice, so 
distressing and humiliating to the royal mother, 
was invariable and all but immemorial. 

It was not omitted at the birth of Louis XIV. 
At five o'clock on the morning of the 5th of 


September, 1638, Louis XIII. was summoned 
to the Queen's chamber, where he remained 
until he had the happiness to know that a 
son and heir had been born to him. At 
six, there arrived in succession at Saint- 
Germain, the King's brother, Gaston d'Orleans 
(who had a vital interest in assuring him- 
self that the birth was genuine), the Prin- 
cesse de Conde, Madame de Vendome, the 
Chancellor, Madame de Lansac (the future 
governess of the prince) and Mesdames de 
Senecey and de la Flotte of the royal house- 
hold. Close to the Queen's couch an altar 
had been raised, where the Bishops of Lisieux, 
Meaux, and Beauvais pronounced mass in 
turn. Pressing up to the altar and flowing 
out into the room beyond, were princesses, 
dukes, duchesses, and bishops, " with a vast 
crowd of the common folk who had invaded 
the palace from an early hour, and who now 
completely filled it." 



At eleven a.m. precisely the Queen's pangs 
were over, and the birth of a prince was 
announced. The resentment, ill-concealed, 
of Gaston d'Orleans did not escape a few 
observant eyes, but passed almost unnoticed 
amid the general joy. The melancholy Louis 
XIII. broke into smiles, and called on those 
around him to admire the fine proportions 
of his son. Shortly afterwards, and in the 
Queen's chamber, the Child of France was 
baptised by the Bishop of Meaux, chaplain-in- 
chief. A King's messenger was despatched 
in all haste to bear the great news to 
Paris, but the joyous cries of the populace 
outran his horse all along the route, and 
as the messenger galloped into the capital, 
the bells were already swinging in every 

Meanwhile, what of the Twin ? The state- 
ment of Soulavie was, it will be remembered, 
that the Queen was delivered at eight in the 

Cardinal Richelieu. 
After Champaigne. 


evening of a second son, who, conformably 
to Richelieu's counsel, was privily and at 
once put away. The role here invented for 
Richelieu was of such immense importance 
that Soulavie should at least have been careful 
to know where the Cardinal was at this capital 
moment. For the truth is that Richelieu 
was not at Saint-Germain at all. He had 
quitted the Court at the end of July ; he was 
at Saint-Quentin on the day of Louis XIV.'s 
birth, and he did not return to Paris until 
the 2nd of October. The letter of congratula- 
tion which he wrote to their Majesties from 
Saint-Quentin is printed in his Lettres et 
papier s. Richelieu, then, is summoned in vain 
as a principal instrument of the plot imagined 
by Soulavie. As the Queen's enemy, he had 
every interest to denounce her to the King ; 
as her suppositious friend and accomplice, 
he could scarcely have aided, at the distance 
of Saint-Quentin, the conspiracy which must 


have been compressed within an hour at the 
utmost in the palace of Saint-Germain. 

But let Richelieu be dismissed from the 
case. We are to receive as plausible the 
suggestion that a twin brother of Louis XIV. 
is born without the knowledge of the Court. 
The birth is nine hours late, but the palace 
is still swarming with the princes of the 
family — and no one has heard of it. Or, it 
is known to all, and all are agreed, for no 
conceivable reason, to keep the secret. The 
secret is so well kept, moreover, that never 
once is it divulged or even hinted at in any 
Memoir of the period. We have contem- 
porary notices of Anne of Austria which are 
scarcely discreet, and we have others which 
are less than discreet ; but we have no record 
of her by any writer of her own day which 
contains the faintest reference to the surrep- 
titious birth of a twin brother of Louis XIV. 

Let this birth, however, be admitted. Let 


it be supposed that, at eight in the evening, 
the witnesses were few, and had pledged 
themselves to secrecy. Was there any reason 
for secrecy? Why should Louis XIII. be, 
as Soulavie says, on the point of fainting 
when he learns that he has two heirs instead 
of one ? The question of the trouble that 
might arise from the idea that the second 
born is the first conceived is not admissible ; 
for, never sanctioned in medicine, this em- 
pirical theory had no recognition in the law 
of France. From commoner to King, the 
first-born was the heir. Far, therefore, from 
being alarmed by the birth of a twin, Louis 
XIII. had reason to praise his fortune, for 
the right of inheritance was now doubly 
consolidated in his own family. 

Once more, however, for the rounding off 
of the argument, let the impossible be received 
and acquiesced in. This ambiguous son of 
Anne of Austria is born, we will say. He is 


brought into the world shortly before 1625, and 
Buckingham is his father; or in 1631, when 
Louis XIII. is believed to be dying, and 
Mazarin, or some gallant unknown, is his 
father; or in 1638, when he is presented to 
us as the most interesting, the most romantic, 
and the most unfortunate of twins. Entrusted 
to some creature of consummate devotion and 
discretion, he is reared in the country ; and 
if, in the course of time, there is developed a 
rather striking likeness to a certain Queen- 
mother or a King, no one perceives it, or 
those who do perceive it are polite enough 
to refrain from questions. But at what epoch 
was he imprisoned, and for what cause ? 
" From the day that he becomes the famous 
prisoner whom Saint-Mars conducts in 1698 
from Sainte-Marguerite to the Bastille, we 
have the right to ask when, how, and in 
what circumstances he was arrested and con- 
fided to his gaoler ? " 


He was allowed his liberty, we will suppose, 
during the lifetime of Anne of Austria; that 
would be not unreasonable, provided he were 
kept out of sight. Was he imprisoned after 
her death ? But Anne of Austria died in 
January, 1666, and Saint-Mars receives no 
prisoner. Did the arrest take place, as 
Voltaire affirms, in 1661, after the death of 
Mazarin ? But at this date, and three years 
later, Saint-Mars was still an officer of 
musketeers. It was not until December, 1664, 
that he was appointed to the governorship 
of Pignerol, where, in the following month, 
he received Fouquet into his keeping. On 
the 20th of August, 1669, arrives at Pignerol 
a second prisoner, one Eustache Dauger. 
But Dauger is known to us : an obscure 
spy, he was given as a servant to Fouquet. 
Is it likely that Saint- Mars would have 
appointed to wait on Fouquet — who had 
passed all his life near Louis XIV. and 


Anne of Austria — a prince whose features 
recalled the King's ? From the date of 
Dauger's imprisonment no other prisoner is 
sent to Saint-Mars until the Comte de 
Lauzun goes to Pignerol in 167 1. After 
that, at long intervals, other prisoners are 
led thither, but they are all identified, their 
crimes or their faults are known. 

" We see them sometimes not too well 
treated; and when, in i68r, Saint-Mars passes 
from the command of Pignerol to that of 
Exiles, he takes with him two prisoners 
only, whom he styles contemptuously "a pair 
of gaol-birds." At Exiles, at Pignerol, at 
Sainte-Marguerite (which dungeon w T as taken 
over by Saint-Mars in 1687), if new prisoners 
are entrusted to him, we know to what 
motives their incarceration may be attributed ; 
and nothing in their past, nothing in their 
treatment in prison, nothing in their conduct 
allows us to suspect in any one of them a 

Cardinal Mazarin. 

After Mignard. 


brother of Louis XIV. Needless to say, 
Saint-Mars would not be likely to designate 
his prince by name in any official despatch, 
nor should proof of that kind be demanded. 
But when, after having examined in turn all 
the prisoners whom the future governor of 
the Bastille had in his charge — and among 
whom must of necessity be found that 
mysterious one with whom he traversed 
France in 1698 — we have satisfied ourselves 
as to the causes of their arrest, and have 
penetrated into their past ; when a hundred 
authentic despatches* render it absolutely 
certain that beyond these prisoners there 
was no other, have we not reason to conclude 
with the question : Where then is the son of 
Anne d' Autriche ? " f 

Tradition, fable, legend, ensnare us at 

: * Archives du ministere de la marine. — Archives du ministere de la 
guerre. — Archives du ministere des affaires itrangeres. — Archives 
impiriales .\ 
t Topin. 


every turn in this enquiry. Truth and fiction 
are interwoven in the strangest manner. 
Around every legendary hero the adventures 
of other persons gradually group themselves, 
and this has been signally the case with the 
Man in the Mask. How interesting — in its 
relation to the hypothesis of the king's 
brother — is the story of the boundless defer- 
ence shown to the prisoner, and the visit he 
received at Sainte-Marguerite from the minis- 
ter Louvois, who addresses him " with a 
consideration savouring of respect." But we 
shall see presently that no one goes out of 
his way to show deference to the Mask ; and, 
as for the visit of Louvois, that is pure in- 
vention. In 1680 (eight years, be it noted, 
before Saint-Mars took the Man in the 
Mask to the Isles) Louvois, who had broken 
his leg, went to Bareges for a few weeks to 
complete his cure In Rousset's Histoire 
de Louvois, we have the detailed itinerary 


of the journey, and Sainte- Marguerite is not 
found in it ; nor, after this, was Louvois 
ever again in the south of France. The 
piquant episode of the silver plate (trans- 
formed by Pere Papon into a linen shirt) 
is bound up with the theory of a brother 
or a twin brother of Louis XIV., and is 
highly interesting as an example of the 
commingling of fact with fiction in the 
popular history of the Mask. The story of 
the plate, as will be plain, has its origin in 
the attempt at escape of a Protestant minis- 
ter confined at Sainte-Marguerite in 1692. 
Indeed, it was scarcely even an attempt at 
escape : the Protestant minister writes some 
complaint on his pewter-plate or vessel (is it 
necessary to say that State prisoners of the 
17th century were not served on silver?), 
and flings it out of window. Out of this 
commonplace fact has arisen the pungent 
tale of the silver dish which is nearly the 


death of the fisherman who rescues it. It 
was believed — and it has still a kind of 
illiterate currency. 

There are legends which, doing hurt to 
no one's memory, it seems almost a pity to 
displace by fact ; but it is always grateful 
to slay a fable which has involved a repu- 
tation in disgrace. This has been the inte- 
rest and the motive of refuting once again 
the discarded and long-contemned invention 
of Voltaire, which, modified variously by 
successive writers, has crammed the mind of 
Christendom. It may lessen the charm of 
the story to remove from it the captivating 
person of a brother of Louis XIV., but the 
arid truth of history repeats that the Iron 
Mask was not a son of Anne of Austria. 
Who |has proved the birth of the pretended 
prince ? Who 'will give the date of his 
imprisonment ? Not even in the France of 
the old Monarchy were royal infants delivered 


by the gods, and inscrutably concealed by 
them. The malign concept of Voltaire 
returns again to the rag-bag of Time — alms 
meet for oblivion. 



English readers will not expect to 

The Expiation 

of be detained long over the case of 
Monmouth. Monmouth. Monmouth's claims to 
the mask were the imagination of an ex-officer 
of French cavalry, by name Germain-Francois 
Poullain de Saint-Foix.* Single-handed he 
defended them, but with the valour of six. His 
hypothesis was only too easily destroyed, and 
perhaps its most valid title to respect during 
the lifetime of Saint-Foix lay in his perfect 
readiness to prove it at the point of the 

The early career of Monmouth scarcely con- 
cerns us. The natural son of Charles II. and 
Lucy Walter or Walters (the " browne, beauti- 

* Born February 5, 1698; died August 25, 1776. — lung. 


ful, bold, but insipid creature " whom the diarist 
Evelyn encountered in Paris), his father doted 
on him, the Court spoiled him, and, in the 
prime of manhood he was, for the general 
people — 

The young men's vision, and the old men's dream ! 

The line is Dryden's, and the famous flattery 
of the picture in " Absalom and Achitophel " 
may once again be cited : — 

Early in foreign fields he won renown, 
With kings and states allied to Israel's crown : 
In peace the thoughts of war he could remove, 
And seem'd as he were only born for love. 
Whate'er he did, was done with so much ease, 
In him alone 'twas natural to please : 
His motions all accompanied with grace ; 
And Paradise was open'd in his face. 

History has rejected the verdict of Monmouth's 
contemporaries. A man of brilliant looks and 
most eminent graces of person, a polished 
courtier, a sportsman, and (save at the crisis of 
Sedgemoor) a brave man in battle : these were 

certainly his best recommendations to the 



general goodwill. He lacked almost every 
element of greatness. His conduct of the 
rebellion against James II. showed that he was 
neither a leader nor an organiser ; defeated, he 
left his devoted followers to their fate ; and, in 
the most critical hour of his existence — the 
interview with the implacable James — he dis- 
played a cowardice and a baseness of spirit 
which disgusted the King, amazed and shocked 
the French ambassador, and drew down upon 
his memory the scathing rebukes of Macaulay. 
Day was not yet full come on the morning of 
the 6th of July, 1685, when Monmouth, with 
Grey and the German Buyse beside him, was 
riding in flight from the lost field of Sedge- 
moor. It is but just to say that, up to the 
moment^at which he knew himself defeated, he 
had fought, on foot and pike in hand, like a 
stalwart soldier. But the moment of defeat 
was surely the one in which a rebel of courage 
and of heart would remember the men whom he 

Charles II. 

From an engraving by Sherwln. [The wax effigy in Westminster Abbey 

was modelled from this' engraving.] 


had summoned to his flag. History has few 
more touching instances of devotion to a feeble 
cause than those which the wretched memory 
of Sedgemoor will eternally evoke. Those 
" Mendip miners " and poor peasants, with 
their scythes and bludgeons and a few old 
rusty guns, who shouted for " King 
Monmouth " while Monmouth was among 
them, and who tried to stem the whirlwind 
of James's cavalry when Monmouth had 
abandoned them, deserved to die for a 
better treason, and for a nobler traitor. 

There is no need to rehearse again the 
details of the flight and capture of Monmouth. 
He must have realised his doom in the hour 
of his arrest, and it remained to him only to 
meet it as the son of a king, and as the van- 
quished leader of an ineffectual revolt. But 
twice he failed, and despicably, in the fortitude 
that inspires the great insurgent. He had 
abandoned his heroic peasants when his mili- 


tary knowledge told him that the battle had 
gone to the King ; and he abandoned his own 
manhood when he found himself in James's 
clutches. His letter to the King from Ring- 
wood is branded by Macaulay as "that of a 
man whom a craven fear had made insensible 
to shame" — his behaviour in the interview with 
the King degrades him deeper still. It was an 
interview which James II. should never have 
accorded. He was justified in sending to the 
scaffold an enemy who had not only usurped 
the title of king, but whose proclamation was 
charged with hideous libels ; but, having 
resolved upon the death of Monmouth, James 
should not, in common humanity, have 
admitted him to his presence. That cruel 
favour, worthy of the most resentful sovereign 
in English history, tempted the beaten and 
broken Monmouth to plead miserably and most 
ignominiously for the life which was already 
lost to him. 


With his arms bound, Monmouth grovelled 
on the floor at the King's feet ; tried to 
embrace him by the knees ; begged for life, for 
life only. The champion of Protestantism — a 
position which had disgraced him with his 
father, and the plea which had supported his 
rebellion against his uncle — he offered, in his 
last desperate extremity, to become a Catholic. 
James turned from him in contempt, and 
Monmouth's final hope was extinguished. 

It is at this dramatic moment that M. 
Germain-Francois Poullain de Saint-Foix ap- 
propriates the doomed adventurer, hands him 
over to Louis XIV., who passes him on to 
Saint-Mars, who transforms him into the Man 
in the Mask. 

James the unforgiving, it is pretended, for- 
gave his nephew on the very eve of the fate 
he had ordained for him ; and Louis of France 
consented to receive and lodge him for life in 
one of his convenient dungeons. This, of 


course, implies that it was not Monmouth, but 
some magnanimous substitute for that prince, 
whom Ketch, with the clumsiness of fright, 
mangled to death on Tower Hill, on the morn- 
ing of the 15th of July, 1685. How then was 
the fraud accomplished ? With the ease which 
. might be expected, when a relenting sovereign 
and uncle needs fortune's aid. An officer of 
Monmouth, condemned with him to the axe, 
and strikingly like the Duke, agreed to per- 
sonate him on the scaffold ! Prelates not 
acquainted with Monmouth were chosen to 
attend his last moments, and the execution was 
hurried, that there might be no opportunity for 
a " dying speech " to the crowd, and no oppor- 
tunity for the crowd to recognise the generous 
impostor. The situation would no doubt be 
an extremely taking one in the theatre ; but it 
was not the situation on the morning of 
Monmouth's death. The divines by whom he 
was accompanied to Tower Hill were the same 

The Duke of Monmouth. 
From a contemporary German Broadsheet. 


who had exhorted him in the Tower ; and the 
scene on the scaffold, far from being hurried, 
was so protracted that it must have been an 
agony to the spectators who had thronged in 
thousands to see their idol die. Nor was there 
any unseemly eagerness on the part of those 
in attendance upon Monmouth to send their 
victim in silence to the block : on the contrary, 
as will be seen, it was Monmouth himself who 
held back, when urged by them to address the 

It is when he comes to the proof that Saint- 
Foix, as may be imagined, is so terribly hard 
put to it. He has not even stubble for his 
bricks. Beyond the tradition of the feigned 
execution of Monmouth (which was for many 
years a cherished belief of our own west- 
country peasants), he offers only the vaguest 
of rumours and the idlest of conjectures. He 
cites (with a confession of little confidence) an 
anonymous libel published in Amsterdam and 


Paris, under the title Amours de Charles II 
et de Jacques II. , rois d 1 Angleterre, wherein 
Skelton, whom William of Orange had re- 
moved from the lieutenancy of the Tower, is 
reported as informing Lord Danby that "on 
the night after the pretended execution of the 
Duke of Monmouth, the King, accompanied 
by three men, came himself to remove him 
from the Tower. They covered his head with 
a kind of hood, and the King and the three 
mounted with him into a coach." Although 
this tract is put forward by Saint-Foix as one 
of his principal pieces, he spoils at a stroke 
whatever worth it may have had for him by 
the candid admission that it should be classed 
with "those books whose authors seek only to 
entertain their readers." 

His next witness is one Nelaton, a surgeon, 
and a haunter of that hot-bed of gossip the 
Cafe Procope. which has but lately disappeared 
from Paris. Nelaton's friends of the Cafe were 


familiar with a story which he did not tire of 
rehearsing : how that, being chief assistant to 
a surgeon near the Porte Saint-Antoine, he was 
sent one day to bleed a prisoner of the Bastille ; 
the governor took him into the chamber of the 
prisoner, whose head was covered with a long 
towel knotted on the neck ; the prisoner 
complained of great pains in the head ; he 
wore a dressing-gown of black and yellow, 
ornamented with large fleurs d'or — and the 
surgeon's assistant perceived by the prisoner's 
accent that he was an Englishman. How and 
by whom the Englishman with his head veiled 
in a towel was identified with Monmouth, Saint- 
Foix omits to say. 

From the Cafe Procope the simple advo- 
cate conducts his audience to the boudoir of 
that light-behaved celebrity, the Duchess of 
Portsmouth. " Father Tournemine has often 
repeated to me that, paying a visit to the 
Duchess of Portsmouth with Father Sanders, 


the ancient confessor of King James, the 
Duchess told them that she should always re- 
proach the memory of that sovereign with the 
execution of the Duke of Monmouth, remem- 
bering that Charles II., in the hour of his death 
and on the point of receiving the sacrament, 
had made him promise before the Host (which 
the priest Huldeston * had secretly conveyed), 
that, whatever rebellion Monmouth might at- 
tempt, he would never put him to death. — 
' Madame,' answered Father Sanders with 
vivacity, 'he did not put him to death.' ' 

And here, to conclude, is ■ Saint-Foix's 
crowning proof: On the rumour in London, 
which gathered as it rolled, that an officer re- 
sembling Monmouth had been decapitated in 
his stead, a "grande dame" — not named to us — 
bribed certain persons — not named to us — to 
open the coffin; and, "having looked closely 

* Huddleston, the priest who had saved Charles's life after the 
battle of Worcester, and who received his last confession. 



James II. 
From an engraving by Claes Visscher. 


at the right arm, exclaimed — ' This is not 
Monmouth!' " 

Thus, for the confusion of later generations, 
were systems of the Mask erected towards the 
end of the eighteenth century. This is the 
case, and the whole case of Germain-Francois 
Poullain de Saint-Foix. And this is to stand 
against the vouchers of eye-witnesses of Mon- 
mouth's death, the written and extant testimony 
of the bishops who stood with him on the 
scaffold, the detailed despatches sent by the 
French Ambassador in London to Louis XIV. 
in Paris, the Memoirs of the age, and the im- 
partial conclusions of history, based on what is 
described by Macaulay as " the strongest evi- 
dence by which the fact of a death was ever 

. But let Saint-Foix not be dismissed too 
coldly from us. We owe him, at least, a 
"homage of amaze." The callous invention 
of Voltaire, the light deceit of Soulavie, were 



certain of a hearing, and they have had it for 
an age; but we are dumbly to praise the forlorn 
pugnacity of this ex-officer of cavalry, ready 
and eager to pink the critic who would not 
be persuaded that a barber's assistant had 
identified Monmouth through the folds of a 
towel tied over his face. For the purposes of 
fiction, by the way, this was a stronger story 
than the legend of the twin brother : it attaches 
itself to the fancy — on the one hand, an 
English peasantry fondly believing in the 
second coming of an idolised prince ; on the 
other hand, the victim of Sedgemoor following 
Saint-Mars from one French dungeon to an- 
other, and, after missing a throne and escaping 
a scaffold, buried in the murk of a November 
twilight by two turnkeys of the Bastille.* 

On the evening of Monday, 13th of July, 
Monmouth knew that he was to die on Wed- 
nesday morning. Clarendon, Keeper of the 

* Topin. 


Privy Seal, had visited him in the Tower, and 
had assured him that no hope remained. Two 
bishops came next, Turner of Ely and Ken of 
Bath and Wells, u with a solemn message from 
the King." Monmouth, bloodless and terror- 
stricken, could not be brought to resign 
himself. If no pardon, might not a respite be 
obtained ? The prelates, more anxious at this 
crisis for his ghostly than for his physical wel- 
fare, exhorted him vainly ; and were greatly 
scandalised by Monmouth's heretical plea of 
the propriety, " in the sight of God," of his 
relations with his mistress, Lady Wentworth. 
They left him, after adjuring him to spend the 
night in prayer for spiritual enlightenment. 

Tuesday came and passed, bringing neither 
pardon nor respite ; and Monmouth's last day 
began. At an early hour he parted from his 
wife and children ; showing, it is said, kindness 
but no emotion : he had sunk from terror to a 
dull despair. Lady Wentworth, who, in a few 


short months, was to follow her lover to the 
grave, did not see him. 

The hour of ten brought the coach of the 
lieutenant of the Tower; and now, with Death's 
hand upon him, Monmouth grew calm and 
dignified. At his request, the divines who had 
visited him in the Tower went with him to the 
scaffold, and continued to exhort him to the 
last : — " God accept your repentance ! God 
accept your imperfect repentance ! "* 

Mournful faces thronged about the scaffold, 
and Tower Hill was " covered up to the 
chimney tops with an innumerable multitude 
of gazers," weeping, or silently indignant. 
Monmouth, as he passed between the ranks of 
the guards, saluted them with a smile ; and he 
mounted the scaffold without a tremor. The 
crowd hungered for his words, but he said very 
little, protesting that he died " a Protestant of 
the Church of England." The bishops broke 

* Macaulay. 

The Execution of Monmouth on Tower Hill. 
From a German Broadsheet. 


in upon this, saying that as a member of that 
church he must submit himself to his King, 
and acknowledge the sinfulness of his rebellion. 
Once again the prelates interfered, when Mon- 
mouth would have spoken of Lady Wentworth. 
He declared his sorrow for the sufferings he 
had brought upon his followers ; then the 
bishops "prayed with him long and fervently,' , 
and Monmouth, after a troubled pause, added 
a slow " Amen " to the closing prayer for the 
King. Entreated to speak to the soldiers, " I 
will make no speeches," he exclaimed ; and 
addressed himself forthwith to the executioner, 
to whom he gave six guineas, with injunctions 
to despatch him swiftly, and not to hack him 
"as you did my Lord Russell." But this com- 
mand, and possibly also the long and painful 
scene he had been witness of, and the con- 
sciousness that the people loathed him for the 
dreadful work he had to do, unnerved the 
headsman utterly. Again and again the axe 


fell on Monmouth ; the wretched Ketch flung 
it from him, took it up again at the sheriffs 
command, and finally severed the head from 
the shoulders with a knife,* amid screams of 
rage and horror from the crowd. 

The vengeance of the relentless James, 
which history, nevertheless, cannot severely 
reproach, was satisfied. Monmouth's head and 
body were gathered up, and buried privately 
the same day under the communion table of 
St. Peters Chapel in the Tower of London. 
An abstract of his speech on the scaffold, 
published by his partisans, has been rejected 
as spurious. 

*He "severed not his head from his body till he cut it off with a 
knife." — Verney MSS. 



Between the years 1754 and 1789, 

"The King 

of the three writers in succession espoused 
Markets." ^ cause G f the Due de Beaufort 
as a candidate for the mask. At the 
respected age of eighty (for he was born 
in 1674), the abbe Lenglet-Dufresnoy * first 
advanced this curious opinion, in his Plan de 
r histoire generate et particuliere de la monarchie 
franfoise, a treatise in three volumes i2mo, 
published in 1754. 

*The abbe, an ingenious student, had had the philosopher's full share 
of imprisonment under the absolute monarchy, for he was twice con- 
fined in the Dungeon of Vincennes and six times in the Bastille. It 
was, in the eighteenth century especially, an approved method of 
recognising distinction in letters ; and the abbe did not complain. Far 
from it ; he always obeyed his summons with the greatest alacrity, 
declaring that prison was the best place in the world to work in ; 
packed a few clean shirts and his MSS., and rode off with the officer 
who had come for him. 


The systeme Beaufort seems to have been the 
especial snare of age, for Lagrange-Chancel,* of 
the Philippiques, carried fourscore years and 
three, when, in 1759, in an article in Freron's 
Annee litteraire, he defended Lenglet-Du- 

The historian Anquetil was nearing the 
seventies when he lent his support to the same 
theory in his Louis XIV., sa Cour et le Regent, 


Since the year of the Revolution, Beaufort's 
claim has gone undefended. It shall engage us 
very briefly. 

Topin has noted the slight comparison that 
may be established between Beaufort and 
Monmouth. Both were royal princes, of 
illegitimate origin ; both had a career of ad- 
venture ; and both enjoyed the uncommon 
privilege of being fatuously loved by the people. 

* The satirist's experience of dungeons was inferior to the abbe's 
but he had been a prisoner of Sainte- Marguerite. 


During many years, the market people of Paris 
refused as obstinately to believe in the death of 
Beaufort as did the peasants of the west of 
England in the death of Monmouth.* Ten 
years after the siege of Candia, where Beaufort 
unquestionably lost his life, the women of the 
markets were still having masses said, not for 
the repose of his soul, but for the prompt return 
of the man himself, f These persistent doubts, 
which, passing lightly over the necessity of 
proof, are always so easily propagated, have 
sufficed to place Beaufort at one era and 
Monmouth at another under the mask of 
Saint-Mars's perplexing prisoner. The points 

* These superstitions of the people are not peculiar to any age or 
country. The death of Mr. Charles Stuart Parnell is, I should sup- 
pose, pretty well attested ; yet there are those in Ireland who declare 
that the lost leader lives and will re-appear. Nay, by some it is 
maintained that he has re-appeared — and in a character somewhat 
plaguing to our fighting-men. Has he not been identified in print 
with that elusive De Wet of the Boer War who (at the time of 
writing) is leading our Generals such a dance among the mountains 
and passes of South Africa ! 

t Topin ! 


of resemblance cease here : the characters of 
the two men were totally dissimilar. 

Monmouth breathed the air of Courts as a 
prince should do. Beaufort, not less a prince, • 
floundered like a clown in the royal circle — the 
Tony Lumpkin of Versailles. Grandson of 
Henri IV. and Gabrielle d'Estrees (his father 
was Cesar de Vendome), Beaufort came up 
from the country to the Court, a raw, handsome 
braggart, with one hand incessantly on his hip, 
and the other twirling up his moustaches ; his 
conversation a ludicrous failure to mix the slang 
of the stable and the hunting-field, which was 
his proper language, with the jargon of the 
elegants, which was exotic to him. He got so 
far as to introduce a vocabulary of his own, 
which had no imitators, and which Cardinal de 
Retz declared would have melted Cato into tears. 
But the stentorian, lubberly Duke had his 
revenge at the wars, where his idiosyncrasies 
were " not noticed in him " ; and he returned 


from Arras with a reputation for prowess in the 
field which rallied around him the courtiers by 
whom he had before been flouted. 

Indeed, he was presently in the way to 
become a strong man in the kingdom ; for, on 
the eve of the death of Louis XIII., we find 
Anne of Austria desirous of making him the 
guardian of her son, as " the most honest man 
in France." It was not a sagacious choice, for 
"the most honest man" was in truth one of the 
vainest, most unstable, and most incompetent. 
In no long time he is observed talking very 
loudly in the rebellious ranks of the Fronde, 
leader of the ridiculous party whose preten- 
sions obtained for them the nickname of Les 
Importants. A truculent, inglorious figure in 
the Fronde, he gave trouble enough to Mazarin 
to make it worth the minister's while to arrest 
him ; he was confined for a time in the State 
prison of Vincennes, and the Importants were 


But Beaufort, for all his ambition, had no 
singleness or fixity of purpose ; he severed the 
ties of party as easily as he formed them, and 
the Fronde knew him no more. After a 
period of idle opposition to the young king, he 
was sent into banishment ; and returned to be 
reconciled to his old enemy, Mazarin. At no 
time was Beaufort a political adversary to be 
very seriously reckoned with. He had no 
real knowledge of affairs ; he could act violently 
at any time, but with judgment at no time ; and, 
wanting the ability to choose a course for 
himself in politics, he was pushed into one 
course and another by those whom he fancied 
he was leading by the ear. 

Outside the sphere of the populace of Paris 
— indeed, it was narrower ; it was the sphere 
of the markets — Beaufort did not possess the 
slightest influence ; and his authority over these 
people, whom he bullied and joked with in 
their own argot, was much more that of a 


popular hero than of a political leader. He 
called the market people his subjects, and they 
in return dubbed him their king : he was the 
King of the Markets. The porters and fish- 
wives followed him in the streets, proud beyond 
measure of their debonnaire prince, who had 
condescended to choose his town house in the 
most populous quarter of Paris,* who would 
mount on a stone to hold an argument, or show 
off his strength in a public brawl. 

On a sudden, however, the factious Beaufort 
ranged himself and grew submissive. In 1663, 
being then at the sane age of forty-seven, he 
received an appointment as Admiral, in 
succession to his father. Lagrange-Chancel 
would have his readers believe that Beaufort 
made use of this office to traverse the designs 
of Colbert, controlling the navy ; but this proves 
quite inexact. The opposition to the throne 
was exhausted at this time ; the passions 

* Rue Quincampoix. 



kindled during the Fronde were extinguished ; 
submission to authority had become or was 
becoming the policy of those princes and nobles 
erstwhile the most restless and intractable. 
" The Prince de Conti married the niece of 
Mazarin ; the great Conde received from the 
King with gratitude the Order of the Saint- 
Esprit" ; and Beaufort, transformed into an 
Admiral, grew mild and malleable. On the 
quarter-deck, it is true, he swore and 
swaggered as of old, and was quite the pirate 
in the treatment of his officers, whom he was 
for ever threatening to pitch into the sea ; 
but in his naval expeditions he endured cheer- 
fully and with docility the authority of the 
expert whom Colbert had placed beside him. # 
It was his subordinates only who felt the 
natural violence of his character ; the Court 
had nothing to fear from him. Far from 
choosing even to pretend himself dangerous, 

* Relation de Gigdiyfaite au Roi par M. de Gadagne, lieutenant-gdneral. 


Due de Beaufort Pair dcFv.uice.Poi 

Francis de Vendome, " Roi des Halles.' 
From a contemporary print. 


Beaufort had gone over, with characteristic 
ostentation, to the side of the young King and 
his advisers ; and had he pretended danger, 
his gifts as a conspirator were too mediocre 
to excite alarm. At his proudest and most 
powerful, he was no more than the King of the 
Markets — le Roi des Halles. 

The hypothesis which lifts Beaufort to the 
dignity of the Iron Mask rests on the 
assumption that his popularity threatened the 
safety of the State. He was given, in 1669, 
the command of the expedition to Candia, to 
the end, it was said, that he should return 
no more. He did not, it was said, die at 
Candia, as history has affirmed : from the 
midst of the fleet, and in the presence of the 
army, he was adroitly whisked away, and 
conveyed into the keeping of Saint- Mars, at 
Sainte-Marguerite. This is the story as we 
have it from Lenglet-Dufresnoy, Lagrange- 
Chancel, and Anquetil — three savants who 


took the field at an age not usually nimble 
in critical speculation or research. If, however, 
the facts brought forward as to Beaufort's 
popularity (considered as a source of danger to 
the State) possess any value, Louis XIV., it 
is clear, had not a reason in the world for 
ridding himself of the Duke. But Beaufort 
did certainly disappear at the siege of Candia. 
Was he killed there, or was he carried thence 
into captivity ? We have no proof whatever 
that he was carried away. Have we, then, the 
proofs of his death ? 

On the 5th of June, 1669, the expedition 
for the relief of Candia, besieged by the 
Turks, set out from Toulon, with Beaufort 
in command ; and on the morning of the 
19th the western point of the island was 
sighted. In the evening, under cover of 
darkness, Beaufort, with Navailles (general 
of the 7,000 French troops who had sailed 
with the fleet), made for the shore 


with muffled oars, and succeeded in reach- 
ing the port. They soon convinced them- 
selves of the desperate condition of the 
Venetian defenders of the place. In fact, 
of the 14,000 whom the ambassador of the 
Venetian Republic had reported to be within 
the walls, there were not above 6,000 who 
could be relied upon as combatants ; and 
most of these had lost heart during a defence 
which was now regarded as hopeless. 

A council of war was held on the 20th, 
when Beaufort, Navailles, the Captain-General 
of the Venetians, and the other officers who 
took part in it, were unanimously agreed 
that a resolute sortie offered the sole pros- 
pect of success. The final plan of this was 
settled on the evening of the 24th, and its 
execution resolved upon for midnight of the 
25th. By that hour, the whole of the 
French troops had been safely brought on 
shore. The one hope lay in taking com- 


pletely by surprise the swarming legions of 
the Turks. The troops of the Venetians, 
useless at present within their bastions, were 
not advised of the project of attack until 
one o'clock on the morning of the 26th, 
when, roused from sleep by their officers, 
they were hurried in silence to their posts. 

The French foot were marshalled on the 
esplanade, where as the hour of two sounded 
from the church of Saint-Marc, they were 
joined by two hundred of the King's 
musketeers and five companies of cavalry. 
Navailles and his men moved off towards 
the right, Beaufort directing his march 
upon the left : the two corps were to re-unite 
at a signal given by Navailles. Arrived 
within a little space of the enemy, Beaufort 
made his troops lie down ; while Navailles, 
who had a larger distance to cover, con- 
tinued his stealthy advance. Some fifty 
minutes before the dawn, the drums of the 


Turks startled the silence ; but a few of 
Beaufort's marines, creeping up to the camp, ' 
returned to say that the enemy were merely 
beating the reveille, and were still in total 
ignorance of their danger 

Navailles had got unimpeded to the ex- 
treme right, where he halted until his reserve 
and the rear guard had come up. Beaufort, 
with growing impatience, was waiting for 
the signal, when, suddenly, a roar of mus- 
ketry burst from the distant right, and the 
red fire glowed over the camp of the Turks. 
In an instant, Beaufort was on his feet, his 
men with him ; the charge was sounded ; and, 
while the day had not yet dawned, the troops 
leaped blindly to the assault. The Turkish en- 
trenchments were almost immediately stormed ; 
the Turks, panic-stricken, fired off their pieces 
and fled, many casting themselves headlong 
into the sea. It seemed as though victory were 
already with the French ; but just then a vast 


sheet of flame reared itself into the night, and 
a terrifying explosion shook the field. Beau- 
fort's troops and , marines, not knowing what 
had happened, halted in alarm ; and scarcely 
obeyed the rallying voice of their leader. 

Far other were the effects which that 
catastrophe had produced among the soldiers 
of Dampierre, who headed the detachment 
commanded by Navailles. A magazine con- 
taining twenty-five thousand-weight of powder 
had exploded, swallowing an entire battalion 
of the French guards, and spreading panic 
on every side. The troops, persuaded that 
the whole field was sown with mines, threw 
away their arms, and ran in all direc- 
tions. In the semi-darkness of that hour 
'twixt night and morning, Beaufort's marines, 
meeting the flying troops of Dampierre and 
Navailles, fell on them as foes ; and an indis- 
criminate and indescribable slaughter began. 
In vain did Beaufort, himself abandoned, 


essay to undo that fatal error. Covered with 
blood, his horse wounded, he threw himself 
amid the terrified Frenchmen, crying: "A moi, 
mes enfants ! Je suis votre amiral. Ralliez- 
vous pres de moi ! " Brave, but futile effort I 
The dawn was growing, and the Turks realised 
that they were not pursued. Recovering their 
ranks as quickly as they had broken them 
they became in their turn the assailants ; and, 
shouting the Prophet's name, they chased the 
French to the gates of Candia. 

Under shelter of the ramparts, the French 
took a breathing space, and roughly summed 
their losses. Beaufort was missing. His 
death was considered certain by the army. 
He had been seen last, streaked with blood, 
and galloping on a wounded horse through 
that dense melee in which Frenchmen were 
killing Frenchmen as Turks. Any French- 
man who died obscurely on that half-lighted 
field might easily have been posed by his 


partisans as the hero of a mystery. But 
no one raises a hint of foul play in the case 
of Beaufort. The first despatch that reaches 
Colbert, from his brother Colbert de 
Maulevrier, signalises Beaufort's death as the 
most deplorable result of the battle.* And 
the army was not satisfied with the know- 
ledge that the leader of the expedition 
was missing. Was it possible the Turks 
had taken him ? A white flag was sent 
into the Turkish lines, but Beaufort was not 
among the prisoners. It was then held for 
certain that he had fallen, an easy mark 
on horseback, among the lost files of the 
French whose death was never questioned ; 
and not a hint or a line that has come 
down to posterity has disturbed this belief. 

The dates alone should suffice to dis- 
prove the case of Lenglet-Dufresnoy and 

* Manuscrits de la Bibliotheque impe'riale, papiers Colbert : cited by 


his two adherents. Was the Man in the 
Mask a nonagenarian ? Beaufort was born 
in 16 1 6, and the prisoner of Saint-Mars 
died in the Bastille in 1703. And how 
does Saint-Mars receive Beaufort a prisoner 
at Sainte-Marguerite in 1669 — eighteen years 
before he goes to that fortress ? 



Endless indeed has been the per- 

The Tragedy 

of Nicolas verse ingenuity of writers on the 
pouquet. su bject of the Iron Mask. That 
Nicolas Fouquet, Louis XIV.'s overweening 
Superintendent of Finance, died at Pignerol, 
March 23, 1680, is an historical fact which 
does not admit of question or of doubt ; 
yet Paul Lacroix (the bibliophile Jacob, a 
voluminous and entertaining author), not con- 
tent with the nineteen years of captivity 
which fate decreed the afflicted Surintendant, 
sentenced him to twenty-three more as the 
Man in the Iron Mask. 

Not that this folly was quite original with 
the bibliophile. It glimmered first in an 


article published, in 1789, in a journal called 
Loisirs dun patriot* frangais ; I republished 
afterwards as a pamphlet, and sold to a 
confiding public under the title, V Homme au 
masque de fer, dcvoile dapres une note 
trouvee dans les papiers de la Bastille. The 
remarkable " note found among the papers 
of the Bastille " has long gone to keep com- 
pany with the legend of the silver plate 
and the linen shirt ; for neither Paul Lacroix 
nor anyone else succeeded in proving its 
existence, and the bibliophile prudently 
abstains from giving it a place of honour 
among his documents. Here it is, for the 
entertainment of the curious : — Fouquet, 
arriving from the Isles of Saint e- Marguerite 
in an iron mask. The note carried the 
good round number, 64,389,000, and a double 
signature — the letters XXX superposed 
on the name Kersadiou. The author of the 
jest elected to remain in an obscurity which 


is and always has been destitute of interest. 
The erudition and inexhaustible versatility of 
Lacroix, from whose pen we have a little 
library of volumes on the curiosities of French 
history, were idly and unworthily employed in 
reviving, in i84o, # a fable which had died in 
the hour of its birth, sixty years earlier. 

The downfall, degradation, punishment, and 
death of Fouquet make an episode as striking 
and poignant as any in the reign of Louis XIV. 
He was at his height of power, the most daz- 
zling figure at the Court, just when the King, at 
the age of twenty-three, had resolved to rule 
France alone. At the first Council he held 
after the death of Mazarin, Louis had said : 
" I shall be my own Prime Minister in 
future " ; f and the Court, incredulous at first, 
soon realised that the King meant to keep 
his word. Already devoted to pleasure and 

* V Homme an masque defer. (Paris, Mayen, 1840, in 8vo). 
t "y<? serai a Vavenir mou premier ministre.'''' 


the chase, he began now to show himself 

energetic and vigorous in affairs ; and from 

this time forward, during the ensuing fifty 

years, he devoted five hours a day to the 

business of the State. So long as Fouquet 

was indispensable, Louis retained him in his 

post ; and that over-confident, rash minister 

promised himself the Chancellorship and the 

real government of France. But, though he 

would not see it, and was deaf to the warnings 

that reached him, Fouquet was very soon 

upon the brink of ruin. The fortune he had 

amassed out of the taxes was probably at 

this time the most considerable in France. 

Colbert, however (Fouquet's arch enemy), 

conveyed to the King the secret of a hoard of 

nearly eighteen millions of ready money, left 

by Mazarin. Search was made and the money 

found ; and Louis, independent of Fouquet 

from that moment, resolved forthwith upon his 

overthrow. Along with the King's incense- 



ment went a certain fear of the dazzling and 
fascinating minister, who was capable, as Louis 
imagined, of impeding if not of thwarting his 
schemes for the government of France after his 
own manner. During a summer of splendid 
fetes at Fontainebleau, to which the opulence 
of Fouquet contributed, the plot against him 
was elaborated by Louis, whose natural gift 
of dissimulation had ripened under Mazarin's 
tuition. Had Fouquet been merely Superin- 
tendent of Finance, he could have been 
attacked and destroyed at once ; but as 
Procureur- General he enjoyed the protection 
of the Parlement. The King and Colbert 
had recourse to a stratagem to induce him 
to resign his office of Procureur-General ; 
he did so, or rather he sold the office ; and 
Louis exclaimed exultingly : " Tout va bien ; 
il s'enterre de lui-meme ! " * Stripped of the 
shield of the Parlement, Fouquet was at the 

* " Good ! He's digging his own grave." 


King's mercy, and on the 5th of September, 
1 66 1, the blow fell. He was arrested in the 
Place de la Cathedrale at Nantes, whither Louis 
had gone to meet the Estates of Brittany. 

11 The formation of a special court to try 
him, the length of his trial, which lasted three 
years, the obvious falseness of most of the 
charges, the influence exercised by Louis over 
the judges, the courage and ability shown by 
the prisoner, his intimate relations with all 
the ablest men of the day, his numerous and 
varied interests, all combined to focus the 
interest and the sympathy of France upon 
Nicolas Fouquet." * 

Sympathy rose higher when it became 
evident that Louis had determined to ob- 
tain a conviction at any cost. It was "a 
seventeenth-century Warren Hastings trial." 
Fouquet was accused of " corruption and 
dishonesty in the management of the finances, 

* Hassan's "Louis XIV." 



of appropriating to himself public money, of 
preparing to revive civil war in France, and 
for that purpose of fortifying Belle-isle." The 
accusation of treason was ridiculous, but the 
charges of malversation were easily estab- 
lished. The truth is that, with rare intervals 
of sound administration, the financial system 
was rotten and immoral throughout the whole 
period of the monarchy, and later. Mazarin 
might have been impeached on this count as 
justly as Fouquet, who was not more un- 
scrupulous than the majority of his contem- 
poraries in the handling of public money. But 
Fouquet fell, as Louis intended he should 
fall. Nor was it enough for Louis to have 
broken and dishonoured him : the King's 
treatment of the sentence decreed by the 
judges was an anticipation of the chastisement 
with which, eighteen years later, he was to 
visit the Iron Mask. The judges were in 
favour of banishment ; but the young sove- 


reign, just entering upon the splendid heritage 
of France, holding in his hands a power 
tremendous enough to inspire generosity, and 
at an age when the hey-day in the blood 
should cry pity upon all misfortune, deliberately 
changed the sentence into one of perpetual 
imprisonment. Fouquet the magnificent, 
whose lordly motto had been, Quo non 
Ascendam ! Whither may I not ?7tount ! 
sank into the shades of a dungeon. Once 
lodged in Pignerol, he never quitted it. 

The system of Lacroix rests almost entirely 
on the assumption — a perfectly gratuitous one 
— that Fouquet's death at Pignerol was 
simulated. Thus, after leaving his victim in 
prison for nearly twenty years, and after 
having, towards the close of that period, 
eased his bonds considerably, Louis, for some 
cryptic reason which history has not pene- 
trated to this day, suddenly gives him out 
as dead, separates him from the rest of the 


world, binds a mask over his features, and 
holds him in this double captivity twenty- 
three years longer. The death of Fouquet 
in 1680, says Lacroix, " is far from being 
certain." Let us see. 

And first it is to be observed that the 
captivity of Fouquet was for many years an 
extremely rigorous one. He endured it with 
great fortitude, spending much time in the 
study of works of devotion, and committing 
his thoughts to paper when he could get 
leave to write. Between the years 1665 and 
1672, says Topin, all communication with 
the outer world was forbidden him ; he 
might not even send a message to his family. 
All at once the King begins to soften a little. 
At first, in 1672, a rare letter is permitted; 
then a more regular correspondence, and 
freedom of intercourse with other captives 
and inmates of the fortress ; finally, there is 
the visit and prolonged stay at Pignerol of 

Nicolas Fouquet. 
From an engraving by C. Mel Ian. 


certain members of Fouquet's family. The 
despatches are open. 

On the 20th of January, 1679, the minister 
Louvois wrote to Saint- Mars : — 

" His Majesty is quite willing [trouve bon] 
that M. Fouquet and M. de Lauzun * should 
see each other as often as they please. They 
may, if they choose, pass the day together, 
and take their meals together. You are at 
liberty to join them. They may have leave 
to exercise at all times, not only within the 
limits of the dungeon, but in any part of the 
citadel. You can take them to dine with 
Madame de Saint- Mars as often as you like, 
even when strangers or officers of the town 
are present . . . . His Majesty accords 
permission to the officers of the citadel to 
visit your prisoners and pass the morning 

* De Lauzun, a captain in the King's guards, the hero of many 
extraordinary adventures, and one of the most impudent little cox- 
combs in France, was ten years in prison at Pignerol. He had already 
had a taste of the Bastille, for an insolent speech to Louis XIV. 


or afternoon with them, should they wish it, 
one of your own officers being present. 

With regard to the governor 

and residents of the town, you will act as you 
think proper in respect of visits to be paid 
by them." 

Still more important and explicit is the 
minister's letter of the ioth of May: — 

" The King, having granted permission to 
Madame Fouquet, her children, and M. 
Fouquet of Mezieres,* to visit M. Fouquet 
at Pignerol, I have his Majesty's command to 
advise you of the same, and further to inform 
you that Madame Fouquet is to have the 
fullest liberty of intercourse with her husband, 
and even, should she desire it, to take up her 
residence in M. Fouquet's apartment. As 
regards the children and M. Fouquet's 
brother, his Majesty desires that they may 
be with him as much as they please, without 

* Fouquet's brother. 


the presence of any of your officers. The 
same liberty is to be accorded to Salvert, 
Madame Fouquet's man of business. You 
may give leave also to the senior officers of 
the town garrison and of the citadel to visit 
your prisoners." 

In the month of June, Louvois authorises 
the visit of certain " dames de qualite " 
of Turin. In November he permits another 
brother of Fouquet to take up his residence 
at Pignerol for twenty-four months, and to see 
the prisoner " as often as he pleases during 
that period." 

Lastly, on the 18th of December, Fouquet's 
daughter has leave to lodge in the dungeon 
itself, in a chamber divided only by the dis- 
tance of a single step from her father's. 

And it is in these circumstances, in the 
immediate presence of a numerous family — 
under the very eyes, we may say, of a wife, 
a son, a daughter, and two brothers — with 


Madame's man of affairs at hand, with 
officers and people of the town and garrison 
coming and going as they list, that Paul 
Lacroix has the temerity to speak of a 
simulated death of Fouquet, the 23rd of March, 
1680! The time was not exactly in joint for 
a plot of that sort. Is it a schemer so astute 
as Louis XIV. (at this date forty-two years of 
age) who sends Fouquet's whole family to join 
him at Pignerol, gives his wife leave to share 
his chamber, lodges his daughter within a 
brick of him, and throws the prisoner's doors 
open to any visitors he may choose to 
receive, at the precise hour when his Majesty 
is planning to report him dead, and to thrust 
him thereupon into greater secrecy than ever ? 
It is childish. And for what reason, this 
pretended death and this prolongation of 
Fouquet's captivity by three-and-twenty years ? 
The bibliophile whispers us of some secret of 
State of which Fouquet is the dreaded pos- 


sessor. So ! And this prisoner with the un- 
speakable secret is suddenly given the liberty 
of the citadel, he is set in the midst of his 
family, he is suffered, nay almost invited, 
to blab it in the ears of all the gossips of 
Pignerol who may come and call on him and 
stay to dinner just as often as he has a mind 
to company ? M. Lacroix, this was rating 
rather cheaply the intellects of Louis XIV. ! 

But the case against the bibliophile is not 
quite finished. Other documents ©f State, 
together with letters of the family, allow us 
to follow Fouquet for a space after his death 
from apoplexy on the 23rd of March, 1680. 
Saint-Mars sent immediately to Louvois. The 
family of Fouquet communicated the tidings 
to their friends, and wrote to the minister 
soliciting the King's permission to lay him 
in their vault in Paris. Madame de Sevigne 
writes to her daughter on the 3rd of April : 
" Poor M. Fouquet is dead ; I am very 


sorry." And on the 5th, " If I were in the 
counsels of M. Fouquet's family, I would see 
that they did not send his poor body on a 
journey, as I hear they propose to do." 
On the 6th of April, the Gazette de France 
makes the following announcement : " We 
learn from Pignerol that the sieur Fouquet 
has died there from apoplexy." 

On the 8th of the month Louvois replied 
to Saint-Mars, to the effect that he had in- 
formed the King of Fouquet's death, and that 
the King wished Fouquet's chamber to be 
prepared for Lauzun. His Majesty sends 
no message of regret. On the same day 
the Minister wrote to Fouquet's son, the 
Comte de Vaux : — 

" Monsieur, — 

" I am in receipt of your letter 
of the 29th of last month. I have spoken 
to the King concerning the request of your 


mother to remove the body of the late M. 
Fouquet from Pignerol. Rest assured there 
will be no difficulty about that ; his Majesty, 
has given the necessary orders." 

At the same time Saint-Mars received his 
instructions : — 

v" The King commands me to inform you 
that his Majesty consents to your delivery 
of the body of the late M. Fouquet to his 
widow, to be transported whither it may 
please her." 

The family possessed a vault in the chapel 
of Saint-Frangois de Sales, in the church of 
the convent of the Dames de Sainte- Marie, 
grande rue Saint-Antoine, Paris ; but it was 
not until the 23rd of March of the year 
following, 1 68 1, that the body of Fouquet 
was carried and deposited there. In the 
" registres mortuaires " of the church the 
record may be read : — 


" Le 23 Mars 1681, fut inhume dans 
notre eglise, en la chapelle de Saint-Fran- 
cois de Sales, messire Nicolas Foucquet, qui 
fut eleve a tous les degres d'honneur de la 
magistrature, conseiller au parlement, mattre 
des requestres, procureur general, surintendant 
de£ finances, et ministre d'Estat.'' 

Thus humbly, by leave of the King, whose 
anger had undone and destroyed him, was 
Fouquet the magnificent inurned in the 
church of the Ladies of Saint Mary, along- 
side the dust of his father. 

The principal hypotheses — most of them, 
as the reader has perceived, mere " springes 
to catch woodcocks " — have now been sub- 
mitted to analysis. Francois Ravaisson, 
keeper of the Arsenal Library, whose task of 
classifying the Archives of the Bastille has 
since his death been continued by M. 
Funck-Brentano, " believed for a moment " 


(says his successor) " that the celebrated 
prisoner might have been the young Count 
de Ke>oualze who had fought at Candia 
under the orders of Admiral de Beaufort. 
Ravaisson put forth his theory with much 
hesitation, and as, in the sequel, he was him- 
self led to abandon it, we need not dwell 
any longer upon it." 

M. Jules Loiseleur, in his charming series 
of Problemes historiques (1867) argued with 
force and brilliancy in behalf of a certain 
" prisonnier mysterieux " arrested by Catinat 
in 1 68 1. Marius Topin put Loiseleur out of 
court and countenance " by discovering 
Catinat in the very prisoner he was said to 
have arrested ! " 

General lung wrote a big and very in- 
teresting book * in support of the claims 
of one Louis de Oldendorf (known also as 

* La Verite stir le Masque de Fer. (Les Empoisonneurs). Paris : 
H. Plon, 1873. 



Lefroid, de Kiffenbach, and the Chevalier 
des Armoises), a native of Lorraine, a spy 
and poisoner, arrested March 29, 1673, in 
connection with the celebrated " affaire des 
poisons." lung's work casts a broad light 
upon those " amazing poison-dramas " which 
remained for years among the obscurest 
problems of the reign of Louis XIV. ; but 
in the endeavour to identify Oldendorf with 
the Man in the Mask he failed completely. 
As his opponent, M. Lair, at once observed 
(and the point is emphasized by M. Funck- 
Brentano), " General lung did not even suc- 
ceed in proving that his nominee entered 
Pignerol, an essential condition to his being 
the Masque de Fer." 

These records, then, may once again be 
wiped from memory : Oblivion has looked 
upon them all. We have still to pluck the 
heart out of the mystery. 





Had Louis XIV. maintained in 

The Intrigue 

for Italy the sagacious policy of Riche- 
casaie. jj eu> there had never been a 
Man in the Iron Mask ! 

Victorious in 1631, that great minister 
in his prudence sacrificed most of the fruits 
of his victory ; restored Piedmont and Savoy, 
retaining only the stronghold of Pignerol, 
whereby he held always open a gate of 
northern Italy. To keep watch on Italy 
without alarming her ; to protect the rights 
of the small Italian princes, while not 
menacing their independence ; to require of 
them in return the fullest measure of con- 
fidence ; to thwart the Spanish plots, and 
suffer the Spaniards to draw upon them- 


selves all manner of Italian hatreds : in a 
word, to preserve an attitude passive but 
vigilant, firm but not threatening — such was 
Richelieu's judicious policy towards Italy. 

And to this policy Louis XIV. adhered, 
until, at about middle age, great in the 
reflected triumphs of his diplomats on the 
one hand, and of his invincible troops on the 
other, he looked upon himself, not without 
reason, as Europe's arbiter. Before the 
Treaty of Nimeguen had been signed in 
1678, his ambitious fancy had o'erleaped the 
Alps ; and in Louvois, his Minister of War, 
he found a willing and impetuous supporter. 
In Piedmont he possessed Pignerol, which, 
sufficient in the eyes of Richelieu, no longer 
contented Louis, who had imagined for him- 
self a great role in Italy. He would have 
done well to remember at this juncture that 
his authority beyond the Alps had been 
accepted in proportion as its aims had been 


disguised, and that there must come a change 
in the sentiments of the Italians when it was 
perceived that the moderate policy of Mazarin 
and Richelieu was to be superseded by the 
" military diplomacy " of Louvois. 

Among the kinglets sharing the pleasant 
territories of northern Italy at this era was 
the young Charles IV., Duke of Mantua, 
"the degenerate representative of that House 
of Gonzaga from which had sprung so many 
illustrious men, and which had allied itself 
with some of the foremost families of 
Europe." History depicts Charles as a rare 
gambler, rake, and spendthrift ; an absentee 
who seldom visited his little territory except 
to wring money from it ; a leader in the 
gaieties of Venice, where he was fast exhaust- 
ing in extravagant adventures the remnants 
of health and fortune. His revenues were 
spent before they reached him, and he 
was always in the hands of the Jews. In 


fine, the young Duke was on the point of 
being up for sale — and Louis XIV. was not 
unwilling to become his purchaser. 

Separated from Mantua by the fair 
extent of the great plain of Lombardy was 
the Marquisate of Montferrat, a fertile and 
coveted tract which had been annexed 
to the Duchy of Charles IV. Of this region 
the capital was Casale, a fortified place, 
swept by the Po, and lying some fifteen 
leagues to the east of Turin. The district 
is rugged, and at this day almost untravelled, 
but Charlemagne had planted here an out- 
post of his empire. The walls of Casale 
" are still formidable, though the children 
race up and down their approaches unterri- 
fied ; and the castle and the citadel still re- 
echo to the clash of arms, as they have done 
for more than a thousand years. . . 
Palaces, too, may be found, if one care to 
look for them, and — best of all — broad shady 

Louis XIV. 
From an engraving after Fiter. 


walks by the ancient bastions." * This 
Casale was a place of great strategical im- 
portance, above all for Piedmont : Turin had 
always eagerly desired it. That the Duke of 
Mantua, given over to his pleasures, should 
possess a footing in this neighbour-territory of 
Piedmont, mattered little to anybody : but that 
the King of France should establish himself 
there — this would be a serious concern for 
Turin. He was already master of Pignerol, 
and if the reader will glance at a map of 
northern Italy he will see at once that, master 
of Casale also, Louis would hold the Govern 
ment of Turin between two redoubtable fort 
resses. From Pignerol in the south-west, 
the passage of the Alps lay open to him ; 
at Casale in the north-east, he would stand 
upon the high road to Milan. And Casale 
was the object of the intrigue " mysteriously 
begun in 1676." 

* Justin H. Smith, "The Troubadours at Home," Vol. i. 


The minister of Louis at the capital of the 
Venetian Republic was the Abbe d'Estrades ; 
an able, restless, scheming man ; eager to 
commend himself to his master by some suc- 
cessful stroke of diplomacy.* No sooner was 
d'Estrades aware that Louvois had put 
Casale into the mind of Louis, than he 
began forthwith to make the project his 
own. Casale must be ceded to Louis, and 
d'Estrades was the man to contrive it. He 
knew how Charles of Mantua stood, how 
overpowering was his need of money, and 
how beggared his resources : he knew the 
character of Charles. The situation seemed 
as fortunate as fortunate could be. 

Further, it was well known to the Abbe 
that Charles was greatly in the hands of his 

* "The Abbe d'Estrades, Ambassador for a considerable time 
from Lewis the Fourteenth to the Republic of Venice, was son of 
Godfrey, Count d'Estrades, so long employed in negotiations and 
embassies in Holland, and who was one of the eight Marshals of 
France made upon the death of Turenne. Madame Cornuel called 
them ' La Monnoie de M. de Turenne.' " — Ellis. 


favourites ; that the affairs of Mantua were 
more or less administered by them ; that 
Charles — so long as he were left to his 
gamesters, his women, and his wine-parties — 
was very prone to take their counsel in all 
things. Through one of these persons the 
young Duke might be approached. 

High among the favourites of Charles was 
Ercole Antonio Mattioli. Born at Bologna, 
the 1 st of December, 1640, Mattioli, a fore- 
most figure in Mantuan society, belonged to 
an ancient and distinguished family of lawyers. 
His grandfather, Costantino Mattioli, had 
risen to the rank of senator ; and one of his 
uncles, Hercule or Ercole Mattioli, a Jesuit 
father, was a noted orator. At the age of 
nineteen Ercole Antonio himself was a prize- 
man in civil and canonical law, and a little 
later he held a chair in the University of 
Bologna. Topin describes him as having 
won some repute in authorship. Having 


allied himself by marriage with a senatorial 
family of his native town, Mattioli settled in 
Mantua, where his talents and his graces 
won him the patronage and support of 
Charles III., by whom he was ultimately 
appointed Secretary of State. The son and 
successor of Charles III. favoured him not 
less, and in this reign Mattioli was created 
Supernumerary Senator of Mantua, a dignity 
which carried with it the title of Count. 
" When he ceased to be Secretary of State," 
says Ellis, "does not appear; but he was 
clearly not in that office when he first, un- 
happily for himself, was involved in diplo- 
matic relations with the agents of the French 
Government." What is certain is that, al- 
though not at this date Secretary of State, 
Mattioli was wholly in the Duke's good 
graces, his companion in affairs of pleasure, 
and a counsellor in politics when Charles was 
minded to be serious. 


Him the Abbe cTEstrades resolved to 
sound upon the affair of Casale. But before 
putting himself in direct communication with 
Mattioli, d'Estrades despatched to him one 
Giuliani, a roving Italian newsman, who 
tripped from town to town seeking things 
to publish in a sheet of which he was the 
editor. " A little editor of newspapers, in 
whose shop the letters of news are written," 
is the description given of him in a despatch 
from Venice to the minister Pomponne. 
Faring hither and thither on his proper 
business — Turin, Milan, Verona, Mantua, 
Venice — Giuliani was the man who could be 
used as a go-between, and no suspicion 
raised as to his movements. D'Estrades 
sent him to parley with Mattioli at Verona ; 
and this was the first real move in the 



It is begun in the strictest secrecy. 
The Ripening Qn fa French side they were 


well aware that the occupation of 
Casale by troops of Louis XIV. could cer- 
tainly make little for the permanent welfare 
of Italy, while the advisers of Charles IV. 
were quite alive to the necessity of keeping 
the affair from the eyes and ears of the 
Spanish party intriguing in the Court 
of Mantua. They were opponents to be 
reckoned with. Charles's mother, Isabella 
Clara of Austria, who headed his council, 
and who was the real ruler in Mantua, was 
entirely pledged to the Spanish interests, as 
opposed to those of France. 

The situation is lucidly set out in the first 


long despatch of d'Estrades to Louis XIV., 
dated from Venice, December 18th, 1677.* 
D'Estrades had satisfied himself that Charles 
possessed " more talent and ambition than 
he was thought to have " ; that he would gladly 
get back the authority which had slipped 
into his mother's hands ; and that he had a 
rooted distrust of the Spaniards, who, as he 
believed, aimed at securing for themselves 
Casale and the whole Montferrat. These 
were the facts which gave d'Estrades to 
believe that the Duke would be not unwilling 
to place himself to some extent under the pro- 
tection of the French King. The despatch goes 
on to show why Mattioli had been selected as 
the agent to approach the Duke, and Giuliani 
as the agent to approach Mattioli. 

" I have thought," writes d'Estrades to 
Louis, " that I could not employ anyone in 

* We issue here upon that remarkable series of papers which Delort 
was the first to overhaul in the Foreign Office at Paris, and in which 
he found the beginnings of the true history of the Iron Mask. 



this affair more proper to conduct it than a 
certain Count Mattioli, who is entirely devoted 
to that prince. I had known him for some 
time, and he had shown a great desire to 
render himself agreeable to your Majesty by 
some service. I knew that he had been 
Secretary of State to the late Duke of 
Mantua ; that the reigning duke had preserved 
much affection for him, and that he was well 
informed as to the different interests of the 
Princes of Italy. As, however, he had been 
much in the Milanese, and had had access to 
the Spanish ministers, I resolved not to place 
any confidence in him till I had put him to the 
proof. I accordingly charged the Giuliani to 
whom your Majesty was good enough to send 
a reward six months ago, and whose zeal for 
your service forbids all doubt of his fidelity, 
to observe Mattioli attentively, and in secret. 
Having been sufficiently informed of his ex- 
treme discontent with the Spaniards, who, 


after entertaining him with hopes, had always 
in the end abandoned him, I sent Giuliani, in 
the month of last October, to Verona, where 
he went under pretext of his private affairs." 

We may return to that month, and overhear 
the first overtures of Giuliani in an affair 
which was to bring about results terrible 
enough for Mattioli. Giuliani had been 
well primed by the abbe, and shows for his 
own part an emphatic interest in his mission. 
As d'Estrades had instructed him, he repre- 
sented to Mattioli that the friends of the 
Duke desired greatly to see him in a position 
of independence ; that all his territories and 
all his revenues were under the absolute 
control of his mother and the monk Bulgarini, 
her confessor, and that Casale and the Mont- 
ferrat were threatened by all manner of 
Spanish and other intrigues. 

To these hints Mattioli lent an open and 
a friendly ear. "He had long, with grief, 



seen the truth " of what Giuliani had laid 
before him, he said, but " there was still a 
remedy for so great an evil," and he would, 
with Monsieur 1' Abbe's approval, get speech 
of the Duke and "discover his real sentiments." 
All this was duly conveyed by Giuliani to 
d'Estrades, and by d'Estrades to Louis XIV. 

Next we are apprised of the " secret in- 
terview " which Mattioli had with Mantua, 
and then of the meeting between that prince 
and Giuliani. The Duke, says d'Estrades, 
" approved very much of the proposition that 
was made him, to free him from the perpetual 
uneasiness he felt on the score of the 
Spaniards, and that, for this purpose, Casale 
should be placed in your Majesty's hands, 
upon the understanding that I should try 
to obtain from you in his favour all that 
he could reasonably ask for." 

The Duke desired to communicate the 
matter to two of his counsellors, " in whom 


he had the most confidence," and he gave 
the selection of them to Mattioli. Mattioli 
named the Marquis Cavriani and Joseph 
Varano, " in whom he has confidence." The 
affair, it is evident, was already in a good 
train ; already there was talk of the preparation 
of " a draft of the plan." D'Estrades was 
now anxious for a personal interview with 
the Duke, and this, it was agreed, should be ' 
managed at Venice in Carnival time, when 
all the world, " even the Doge and the oldest 
senators," went masked. What the Duke de- 
sired above everything was that Louis should 
send into Italy a sufficiently strong army " to 
be able to undertake something considerable," 
— an army of which he wanted the general- 
ship, says d'Estrades, " in order to be con- 
sidered in Italy like the late Duke of Modena, 
and the late Duke of Mantua, who at his age 
commanded in chief the Emperor's army, with 
the title of Vicar-General of the Empire." 


Enclosed with d'Estrades's despatch was a 
letter from Mattioli to Louis,* in which he 
protests his devotion to him and to the 
interests of France. " For myself, I bless 
the destiny which procures me the honour 
of serving so great a monarch, whom I 
regard and revere as a demi-god." He 
undertakes to "transmit to your Majesty all 
that I shall learn respecting Casale, which 
has been fortified by one of the most skilful 
engineers of the Milanese." He entices the 
King with a hint of the great strength of 
the place. " I am convinced it would be 
useless in me to enlarge upon the importance 
of the fortress of Casale. Your Majesty 
must remember that at different times it has 
arrested the progress of many armies, and 
that it is the only bulwark upon which 
depends the loss or the preservation to the 
Spaniards of the territories of Milan ; terri- 

* December 14th, 1677. 


tories which, for more reasons than one, 
ought to belong to your Majesty's crown." 

To this Louis replies with his own hand, 
on the 1 2th of January, 1678 : — 

" I have seen from the letter you wrote 
me, as well as from what has been com- 
municated to me by my Ambassador, the 
Abbe d'Estrades, the affection you exhibit 
for my interests. You cannot doubt that 
I am greatly obliged to you, and that I shall 
have much pleasure in giving you proofs 
of my satisfaction upon every occasion." 

On the 24th of December, 1677, and on 
the 1st of January, 1678, we have despatches 
of d'Estrades to the minister Pomponne.* 
The Abbe has learned from the Duke of 

* " Simon Arnaud de Pomponne, Secretary of State for Foreign 
Affairs from 1 67 1 to 1679, when he was dismissed from his office, but 
retained the title of Minister of State, with permission to attend the 
Council. A man, like so many of his race, who united considerable 
talents to great excellence of character. Madame de Sevigne says, 
in speaking of the eminent station he had filled, that ' Fortune had 
wished to make use of his virtues for the happiness of others.' " — Ellis. 


Mantua that, should the French enter Italy, 
and should the Duke show a disposition to 
favour them, the Austrian party have deter- 
mined to seize Casale and all the Mont- 
ferrat. Mantua also is to be occupied. 
In these circumstances, the Duke, who is 
" watched by his mother, by the monk 
Bulgarini, who governs her, and by the 
greater part of his ministers," can neither 
declare himself openly on Louis's side, nor 
deliver up Casale to him, " unless he will 
send a sufficient army into Italy to secure 
that fortress." Further, " the Emperor and 
the Spaniards are ardently soliciting the 
Nuncios and the Ambassadors from Venice, 
residing at Madrid and Vienna, to persuade 
their masters to unite with them against 
France, and to represent to them that they 
have a common interest in the preservation 
of Italy, and in keeping out of it, the armies 
with which it is menaced." 


On the 1 2th of January, Louis writes ex- 
haustively to d'Estrades, commending his 
zeal in the business, and flattering Charles 
for the " noble resolutions he seems disposed 
to take." As for the citadel and fortress 
of Casale, should they be given up to him, 
Louis says, " I shall willingly content myself 
with holding them in the same manner in 
which I held them formerly ; that is to say, 
under the condition of preserving them for 
the Duke of Mantua, and of paying the 
garrisons I shall keep there. I would also, 
in order to favour the military inclinations 
of this Prince, take measures with him 
respecting the command of the armies I 
shall send across the Alps." 

Louis objects, however, to the Duke's price 
of one hundred thousand pistoles.* "You must 
make him understand that this sum is too 
large." As it was not convenient to Louis to 

* About ^"40,000 ; the pistole being equal to ten francs. 


send a considerable army into Italy that year, 
d'Estrades is instructed to protract the negotia- 
tions, and to " continue to entertain " the Duke 
with the notion that the French troops would 
shortly arrive in his territories.* Mattioli, as 
the principal confidant in the affair, is to be 
kept "always in good humour, by the assurance 
of the especial good-will I bear him for his 
conduct, and by the expectation of the proofs 
of it which I shall be inclined to give him." 

The main difficulty — indeed, almost the only 
one— was to protract the negotiations, for* 
everything was going so smoothly and so 
rapidly that, as d'Estrades writes to Pomponne 
on the 29th of January, there was no serious 
hindrance to be found or created. It was in 
the month of January that Mattioli began 
secretly to visit the Abbe at his house in 
Venice. The only point the Duke's agent 
seemed inclined to contest was the price to be 
paid for the occupation of Casale. At length, 


he proposed to d'Estrades a sum of 500,000 
livres, about ,£20,000. This was reducing the 
price by half, but d'Estrades was for a lower 
figure still ; and, eventually Mattioli, knowing 
his master's straits, was induced to accept an 
offer of 100,000 crowns. 

Taking the crown at a value of three francs 
(though it is all but impossible to determine 
the relative values of the moneys then in cir- 
culation), this would represent the trifling sum 
of £12,000. This, moreover, was to be paid 
only on conditions. " Finally, Sire, I brought 
him to content himself with one hundred 
thousand crowns ; and that on condition that 
your Majesty was not to pay them till after the 
treaty had been signed ; and then, if you 
choose not to give the whole sum at once, that 
the Duke of Mantua should receive fifty 
thousand crowns first, and the remaining fifty 
thousand three months afterwards." 

Everything else was agreed to " without 


difficulty." Duke Charles, in fine, was in a 
hurry to conclude the affair ; being, says the 
Abbe, "in continual terror of the design, which 
he understands the Spaniards to have, of 
seizing upon his fortresses on the least pretext, 
and on the first favourable occasion." 

The next step was to arrange the meeting 
between Charles and d'Estrades, and nothing 
hindered this but the extreme secrecy with 
which the affair was being conducted. Charles 
had come to Venice in the last days of January, 
but the Spaniards were watching him, and it 
was not until the 13th of March, 1678, that he 
and the Abbe contrived their interview. We 
see them encountering at midnight, closely 
masked, " in a small open space," says 
d'Estrades in his despatch to Louis, " which 
is at an equal distance from his house and 
mine. I was an entire hour with him." The 
Duke was in a pressing haste to get the treaty 
ratified, from the fear that he was in of being 


" overwhelmed by the Spaniards." Money, 
money was his call : his supplies from the 
Spaniards were threatening to stop, and, 
lacking this support, he could not maintain the 
garrison of Casale. His sole trust, he said, 
was in France : When would Louis's troops 
appear in Italy ? He was tired of the slowness 
of despatches, and begged that Mattioli, in 
whom, says d'Estrades, "he has a blind con- 
fidence," might be sent to the French court, 
where his presence "may bring matters to a 
speedier issue." 

D'Estrades was put to a shift. He knew 
that Louis could not send in 1678 the army 
upon which Mantua was counting. He knew 
that the Duke, who was all for clinching the 
treaty, began to be uneasy at the length of the 
negotiations^ Balancing the issues, he decided 
to let Mattioli go to Paris. 



But being still under the necessity 

The Treason 

of count of biding his time (for Louis, with 
Matuoii. t j le J3 utc h on his hands, could 

send no serviceable army into Italy), the 
Abbe had barely made this decision when 
he began to devise means to delay the 
departure of Mattioli. ' Here again fortune 
favoured him ; and the Duke was at this time 
so beset, harassed, and importuned by the 
Spaniards to declare himself against France, 
that Mattioli, fearful of leaving him, resolved 
to postpone his journey to France. This was 
in the third week of May (1678). On the 9th 
of July, d'Estrades advises Pomponne that 
Mattioli is to start almost immediately, and 


that he should reach Paris in September. 
" We have calculated the time together, and 
he cannot and ought not to leave his master 
sooner." Mattioli himself begins to be appre- 
hensive "that these delays may give a bad 
opinion of him " : they were, in truth, just what 
the French designs required. 

Towards the end of the month the Duke is 
in attendance on his Duchess-mother, ill of 
a fever. "If God should call her to Himself, 
the affair of Casale would without doubt be 
more easy to conclude." However, the lady 
lives ; and the affair continues to move. 
Mattioli does not cease to assure the Abbe 
that the Duke is " always firm in his design 
of putting himself under the protection " of 
Louis — of which, indeed, there was very little 

Still, Mattioli cannot get off to France. 
The Abbe himself precedes him thither : 
partly, it would seem, on a holiday, and partly 


in connection with the negotiations. He is 
succeeded at Venice by Pinchesne, from whose 
first despatch to Pomponne — September 3rd, 
1678 — we learn that Mattioli has been ill, but 
hopes soon to be able to commence his journey 
to the Court. Nine days later, it is Mattioli 
who writes concerning his illness to Louis, de- 
ploring the further delay it has occasioned him. 
" The eagerness I have is extraordinary, to be 
able with all possible celerity to throw myself 
at your Majesty's feet." 

It is the 29th of October before we know 
that he is actually off : Pinchesne has news of 
him, "written from Berheta on the 26th of this 
month." Meanwhile, as late as November 
1 8th, Paris has not yet beheld him. " Neither 
the Count Mattioli nor the Sieur Giuliani," 
writes Pomponne from Versailles, " is yet 
arrived here." At the end of the month 
Mattioli was really in Paris. 

No time was lost now in drawing to a close. 


D'Estrades was already in Paris ; and with him 
and M. de Pomponne, Charles's minister had 
several interviews. A treaty was quickly 
agreed upon, of which the following were the 
chief stipulations : — 

1. That the Duke of Mantua should receive 
the French troops into Casale. 

2. That if Louis XIV. sent an army into 
Italy, the Duke of Mantua should be appointed 

3. That upon the execution of the treaty, the 
sum of one hundred thousand crowns should 
be paid to the Duke of Mantua. 

Altogether a wonderful bargain from the 
standpoint of the King of France. For a mere 
,£12,000 or so, he acquired a splendid fortress 
which, with the one that was already his at 
Pignerol, would enable him to control the 
destinies of Northern Italy. The Court may 
well have been astonished at the terms, and 
at the ease and rapidity with which the whole 



affair had been concluded. Moreover, so skil- 
fully had it been contrived, on the part of 
Pomponne, of d'Estrades, of Pinchesne, and 
of the small number of the Duke of Mantua's 
abettors, that no whisper of the plot had 
reached the Duchess Dowager or any of her 

Mattioli was admitted to secret audience by 
Louis, who presented him with a ring and a 
sum of money, and promised that his son 
should be a king's page, and that his brother, 
who was in the Church, should receive pre- 
ferments Mattioli then prepared to return 
to Italy. 

The secrecy which had been all along 
observed was still maintained. Pomponne, 
advising Pinchesne of the Italian's departure 
from France, bade him " keep the journey very 
secret." Varano, one of the two persons to 
whom the Duke of Mantua had confided the 

* Delort, Ellis, Topin. 


design, was advised by Pinchesne that he had 
a letter for his Highness from France ; and 
Varano proposed .they should meet in mask 
at the opera. At about the same date (we are 
now in the closing days of 1678) Pomponne 
instructed Pinchesne that he was sending him 
a new cipher by courier ; and the old pre- 
cautions were kept up. 

" The courier whom I despatch to you 
has orders not to go to your house as a 
courier, but to enter Venice as a tradesman, 
or as a private French individual who goes 
there on his own business. He brings you 
a cipher, which you will employ only in 
what concerns the affairs of the Duke of 
Mantua. We have been afraid that, for 
so important a business, the cipher of the 
Abbe d'Estrades was too old, and had 
probably been discovered in the many times 
it passed through the territories of Milan." 

The scheme having advanced thus far, 



Louis was now eager to see it to the end. 
The able Louvois, in whom Topin discerns 
the finest genius for organisation up to the 
era of Napoleon, rapidly prepared the whole 
plan of action. A strong body of troops, 
placed under the command of the Marquis de 
Boufflers, Colonel General of Dragoons, was 
assembled at Briancon, ready to pass the 
frontier. Baron d'Asfeld, Colonel of Dragoons, 
set out for Venice, with a commission to 
exchange the ratification of the treaty. Catinat, 
then Brigadier of Infantry,* went " dans le 
plus grand mystere" to Pignerol, where he 
was to conceal himself in the fortress, and 
to take for the time being the name of 
de Richemont. The first despatch of Louvois 
to Saint-Mars concerning this affair has refer- 
ence to the coming of Catinat. It is dated 
from St. Germain-en-Laye, Dec. 29th, 1678. 

* Afterwards the celebrated Marshal. Voltaire says of him that he 
united philosophy to great military talents. 


" These few words are to inform you that 
it is necessary for the King's service that 
the person from whom you will receive this 
should enter the citadel of Pignerol, unknown 
to anyone. With this in view, let the Safety 
Gate * remain open until night-fall, and send 
him one of your servants ; or better, if you 
are able, go yourself to meet him at the 
spot to which his valet will conduct you, in 
order that he may pass into the citadel and 
dungeon in your suite, without being observed 
by anyone." 

Louis had already written to the Duke of 
Mantua : — 

" My Cousin, — 

" The Count Mattioli will instruct you so 
particularly, both as to the manner in which 
he performed the orders with which you 
charged him for me, and as to the extreme 

* Porte de Secours. 


satisfaction with which I have received his 
assurances of your zeal for my interests, that 
I can have nothing further to add upon these 
subjects. I am only desirous of stating that 
I wish you to place entire confidence in my 
friendship. You may promise yourself that it 
will be both useful and glorious to you upon 
all occasions, and you may always rely 
securely upon my alliance. I hope to be able 
to give you in the end unmistakable proofs 
of this. Having testified to you the satis- 
faction which the conduct of Count Mattioli 
has afforded me throughout the whole of this 
affair, I will add only that I pray God to 
have you, my Cousin, in His high and holy 

" Written at Versailles, this 8th Dec. 1678. 

" Louis, 
[and under the King's 




D'Asfeld arrived in Venice on the 21st of 
January, 1679, and at once communicated his 
orders to Pinchesne ; but nothing could be 
agreed upon until Mattioli came, who was still 
journeying slowly from Paris. They were, 
however, resolved to persuade Charles of 
Mantua to be at Casale by the 20th of Feb- 
ruary, to make the exchange of the treaty, 
and to prepare for the entry of the French 
troops. On the part of the French, in fine, 
all was now impatience where before it had 
been anxiety for delay. There was sufficiency 
of reason for this, since the massing of 
Louis's troops on the frontier must soon alarm 
the House of Austria ; and, in fact, the march 
towards Pignerol had begun in the last days 
of January. But just as, when the nego- 
tiations were at an early stage, they advanced 
too rapidly for the pleasure and convenience 
of Louis, so now, when everything was in 
readiness on the French side, and Louvois's 


plans were actually in execution, delay arose 
upon delay beyond the frontier. 

On reaching Italy, Mattioli was again 
smitten with fever, but he managed to see 
Pinchesne and d'Asfeld in the first week of 
February. Then it appeared that the Duke 
could not possibly go to Casale earlier than 
the ioth of March. He alleged, through 
Mattioli, (i) a want of money ; (2) the fear 
he had of leaving behind at Mantua Don 
Vincent Gonzaga, his heir presumptive,* at 
so critical a juncture ; and (3) " the obligation 
he found himself under of holding a sort of 
carousal with several Venetian gentlemen." 
Pinchesne, in excusing to Pomponne the 

* ' ' Vincent Gonzaga, Count of St. Paul, afterwards Duke of 
Guastalla, was descended from a younger son of Ferrant II., first Duke 
of Guastalla. After contesting for many years his right to that 
Duchy with Ferdinand Charles IV., Duke of Mantua (during which 
they were both merely made use of, by turns, as the instruments of the 
French and Austrian domination), he was finally successful in estab- 
lishing himself at Guastalla in 1706, where he died April 28th, 1714." 


apparent triviality of the third of these rea- 
sons, thinks that, after all, the spectacle of 
his Highness dallying with his pleasures in 
a season of political unquiet, may assist to 
draw off the suspicions which are beginning 
to gather about him. In any event, Charles 
was clearly bent upon keeping his engage- 
ment with Louis. 

But the need of swift, decisive action did 
not diminish. " Meanwhile, Sir," runs a 
despatch of Pinchesne on the 18th of Feb- 
ruary, " I think it right to inform you that 
the march of the troops to Pignerol, and the 
munitions and money that are carried there, 
cause genuine alarm in all Italy. It is even 
publicly stated here that the King has some 
great design, albeit no one can say what it 
is ; suspicion falling now upon Casale, now 
upon Geneva, and now upon Savoy, but more 
particularly upon the Republic of Genoa, by 
reason of what has lately passed there. I 


even know that M. Contarini * has written 
in these terms to Venice." More than this, 
the Spanish Ambassador and the Abbe 
Frederic, the resident of the Emperor, went 
to the Duke of Mantua and plainly told 
him " they had heard from Turin that he 
wished to give Casale and the Montferrat " 
to the King of France ; representing in 
strong terms " the disadvantages that would 
arise to all Italy from such an action, and 
particularly to the House of Savoy, on 
account of the Duchy of Milan." Charles 
denied it roundly, wondering how the gen- 
tlemen " could believe in reports of this 
nature " ; nevertheless, adds Pinchesne, " he 
is always in the intention of executing the 
treaty he has made with the King." 

But the circumstances were becoming tick- 
lish, and Pomponne deemed it well to be more 
pressing with Mattioli. Addressing him on 

* Ambassador from the Venetian Republic to the Court of Louis XIV. 


the 2 1 st of February, he wrote: "I have not 
failed to inform the King of your sorrow for 
the long delay over an affair which was begun 
and is to be concluded through your agency/' 
And he added with some significance : " His 
Majesty is still willing to promise himself suc- 
cess in this enterprise, and will entertain no 
doubt that the promise so solemnly given him 
is to be fulfilled." 

Pinchesne and d'Asfeld on their part con- 
tinued to ply him ; and towards the end of 
February it was arranged that d'Asfeld and 
Mattioli should go on the 9th of the following 
month to the village of Notre- Dame d'Increa, 
ten miles from Casale, there to make exchange 
of the ratifications ; while the Duke of Mantua 
should be at Casale " without fail" on the 
evening of the 15th, to wait for the troops of 
Louis (due to arrive on the 18th), and to put 
them in possession of the place. 

By this time alarums were shaking all the 


north of Italy. From Turin, from Milan, from 
Mantua rumour, growing ever more definite, 
flowed in unceasingly. Suspicions, writes 
Pinchesne, were beginning to change into 
certainties that Charles of Mantua had made 
a treaty with Louis for the cession of 
Casale and the Montferrat. The Governor of 
Milan sends couriers flying to Madrid and 
Vienna to give intelligence to the Emperor and 
the King of Spain. " The courier to Vienna 
returned here * on Wednesday evening, with 
express orders to the Marquis Canozza, the 
Imperial Vicar in Italy, to speak strongly to 
the Duke of Mantua, and to deter him if 
possible, from doing a thing so contrary to the 
interests of the whole House of Austria; and 
to go afterwards to Turin and Milan, to 
concert there the means of preventing it, in 
case the news proved true." The Duke, who 
showed no disposition to break his engagement 

*To Venice. 


with Louis, found excuses to keep the Imperial 
Vicar at arm's length. Pinchesne began to be 
in dread that the Spaniards, more and more 
jealous and distrustful, might oppose Charles's 
passage through the Duchy of Milan, and that 
of Mattioli, " whom they doubt as much." 

But it was not on the Duke of Mantua or on 
Mattioli that hands were laid. Like a 
thunderbolt the news fell upon Versailles that 
d'Asfeld had been arrested on his way to 
Notre- Dame d'Increa, and was held prisoner 
by the Governor of Milan* in the interests of 
the Spaniards. This was a check indeed ; and 
now at once the suspicions of the French 
began to fasten upon Mattioli, who had been 
the first to send the news of d'Asfeld's mis- 
fortune. Louis and his agents, it is true, were 
unwilling as yet to consider themselves be- 
trayed : the seizure of d'Asfeld might have 
been no more than an unlucky accident ; the 

* The Count de Melgar, Spanish Governor of the Milanese. 


affair might still be carried through. But there 
was no time to lose. The 24th of March had 
come, and Mattioli had not gone to Notre- 
Dame d'Increa and the Duke had not gone to 
Casale. D'Estrades (now Ambassador at 
Turin), the soul of the enterprise from the 
first, was sending courier on the heels of 
courier ; to Venice, for Pinchesne ; to Mantua, 
for the Duke ; and everywhere in Northern 
Italy for Mattioli. Acting upon the instruc- 
tions of Pomponne, the French agents in Italy 
were careful not to communicate to Mattioli 
their doubts of his good faith ; but d'Estrades 
wrote him a letter in which the mailed hand 
might be felt through the glove. 

" If," says the Abbe, " I had not been aware 
of your probity, and of your zeal for the 
interests of his Majesty, and for the welfare of 
the Prince to whom you are attached, I should 
have been seriously uneasy at the delay of our 
affair, which ought without fail, and at the 


latest, to have been concluded at the beginning 
of this month. But although we are already 
at the 24th, and all that you can desire on our 
part is in readiness, I cannot bring myself to 
think that his Highness's intentions and your 
own are other than they always were. You 
have so well understood how useful this affair 
would be to him at the present time, and how 
glorious in the future, and you have so ably 
represented this to him, that I cannot permit 
myself any suspicions on this head. Neither 
can I, when I reflect upon the very consider- 
able interest you have in completing an under- 
taking of such importance, the conclusion of 
which will be esteemed so great a merit on 
your part by the most generous and the most 
powerful King in the world, who has himself 
testified to you the good-will he bears you 

for it As his word has always 

been inviolable, you no doubt rely implicitly 
upon it ; you must be aware also how 


dangerous it would be to deceive him and 
that, after all the steps he has taken, and the 
measures he has agreed upon, you would 
expose his Highness and yourself to very great 
misfortunes if his Majesty had reason to think 
that faith had not been kept with him. ,, 

But March went out, and the treaty had not 
been ratified ; nor had Mattioli and the Duke 
kept their appointments. Versailles is all 
in profound uncertainty; as late as the 18th 
of April, we have Pomponne writing to 
Pinchesne — " It is still very difficult to dis- 
cover what is the real case with this affair, and 
whether the good faith that was to be desired 
in it has been kept. Try to discover this 
adroitly, but without showing any suspicions ; 
and be careful to inform me of everything that 
shall come to your knowledge on the subject." 
Writing again on the following day, the 
minister makes it sufficiently plain that his 
own suspicions of Mattioli's treachery are 


confirmed ; and respecting the Duke, he 
says : " In truth, this Prince should not be 
allowed to think that it is permitted him to 
fail in a treaty he has made with his Majesty. 
If the occasion should present itself, make it 
appear to him that you cannot doubt his keep- 
ing the promises which have been made to 
the King." This suggests that, with or 
without Mattioli, it may still be possible, in 
the opinion of Versailles, to bring the scheme 
to an issue of success. 

In a moment that hope was extinguished 
and annihilated. Intelligence of everything 
that had taken place between Louis XIV. and 
Charles of Mantua was conveyed simultane- 
ously to the Courts of Turin, Madrid, Vienna, 
to the Spanish Governor of the Milanese., and 
to the Inquisitors of State of the Venetian 

" To all, in a word, who were most inter- 
ested in opposing the execution of the project, 



it was known point by point : the price of 
the cession, the date at which it was to^be 
made, the names of the negotiators. They 
knew everything, because they had received 
at sundry times the confidences of the prin- 
cipal and best-instructed among the actors in 
the intrigue — of Count Mattioli himself." * 

It was true — Mattioli had played the traitor. 
He had sold his master ; he had sold and 
made a jest of the Omnipotence of France. 

* Topin. 



" Never was seen," exclaims Pom- 

The Vengeance . 1 i r i 

ponne, in a despatch ot the 

of •• the Most r r 

Generous" 3rd of May, " so signal a piece 
of perfidy ! " 
Maria Baptista of Nemours,* Duchess and 
Regent of Savoy, and one of her ministers, 
President Turki, or Trucci, were the first 
who had received the confidences of Mattioli. 
To the Duchess he had shown the original 
documents of the negotiations, of which she 
had taken copies: facts which she herself com- 
municated to Louis XIV. Mattioli had seen 
the President at Turin. He had given in- 
formation to the Spaniards, and had accepted 

* Mother of Victor Amadeus II., at this time a minor. 



a cipher from the Spanish Governor of 
Milan. He had had secret interviews with 
one of the Inquisitors of State at Venice. 
All this, with sundry pleas and glosses, 
Mattioli afterwards confessed to Catinat.* 

The real motive or motives of this whole- 
sale treason will never be clearly known, for 
they were never divulged by Mattioli ; and 
we have little choice but to acquiesce in the 
general conclusion, which is — in M. Funck- 
Brentano's words — that he had cynically be- 
trayed both his master and Louis XIV., in 
order to reap a double harvest of gold. 
Topin asks generously whether this '■ gross 
cupidity " is the sole explanation; and sug- 
gests that, " shaken to his soul, and illumined 
by the sudden apparition of his country in 
danger," Mattioli in remorse may have fallen 
back upon the one and only means of check- 
ing the advance of Louis. But this palliative, 

* Catinat to Louvois ; May ioth, 1679. 


well as it becomes its author, is not easy 
of acceptance ; for the conduct of Mattioli, 
after his return from France, bears every 
appearance of trickery and duplicity. If he 
designed to save Italy from Louis, he hid 
his project from his master, the Duke of 
Mantua ; and he certainly did not return, as 
he should have done, the French King's 
presents. These are Topin's own admissions, 
and he has manifestly little faith in the 
hypothesis which his good-nature propounds. 
Mattioli had presumably acted with his 
eyes open, but he seems to have taken no 
measures for his own safety in the event ot 
detection ; and the discovery of his treason 
had left him in a terrible situation. Charles 
of Mantua repudiated him, declaring that he 
had never authorised any negotiations for the 
sale or occupation of Casale. But Charles 
the insouciant was scarcely a dangerous 
enemy ; and it is probable that, while he 


might be willing to assist in his punishment, 
Mattioli had not much to fear from him. 
His real danger lay elsewhere. D'Estrades 
had beheld with feelings of mortification and 
intense bitterness the failure of a project in 
which he had had from the first the closest 
personal interest. The details were his, the 
negotiations had been begun by him, he it 
was who had selected Mattioli, and it was 
by him that Mattioli had been introduced at 
the Court of France. Louvois, for his part, 
had been baffled in the execution of the 
plans he had so adroitly laid ; and a French 
minister beaten at his own game of intrigue 
by an Italian adventurer was little likely to 
find himself in the humour of forgiveness. 
D'Estrades and Louvois, moreover, had acted 
not for themselves but for their master the 
King ; and when the projects of Kings are 
confounded their ministers are very apt to be 
held blameworthy. 

O be 


But there was a vengeance infinitely more 
to be dreaded than that of either Louvois or 
D'Estrades. Mattioli had drawn upon himself' 
the resentment, the implacable resentment, 
of Louis XIV. True, Louis had not at this 
time lost all hope of securing Casale ; but, 
for the immediate present, it was not Casale 
that filled his thoughts : it was the unspeak- 
able, the incredible effrontery of the man 
who had outwitted, cheated, and flouted him 
in the face of Europe. Europe was ringing 
with the discomfiture of Louis ; Europe was 
silently laughing at the Grand Monarque. 
It is necessary to recall his position among 
the Powers of that day, the splendid successes 
that had attended his arms, and his almost 
dictatorial attitude towards the Sovereigns 
his contemporaries, in order to appreciate 
the extent of the humiliation which Mattioli's 
treachery had brought upon the King of 
France. " The most generous " King was 


d'Estrades's description of him. It was the 
unlucky fate of Nicolas Fouquet to submit 
to the test the generosity of Louis XIV. 
towards one whom he feared even in defeat. 
" Let us be content with banishing this man," 
Fouquet's judges had said. " No," said the 
King: "he shall end his days in prison." 
And that was in the green tree, and it was 
now the dry : Louis was in his forty-first 
year. Again, what was Fouquet's offence 
in comparison with that of Mattioli ? Fou- 
quet had enriched himself at the State's 
expense, and he had courted and had won 
a popularity which fretted the King's com- 
placency. But he had not broken faith with 
Louis, he had not contemptuously bartered 
his interests, he had not openly made light 
of that jealous and sensitive dignity — he had 
not given Europe the opportunity to smirk 
over the humbling defeat of a Roi Soleil. 
Fouquet, for his popularity in Paris, died 


an old, sick man, in the dungeon of Pignerol. 
What fate should Mattioli look for ? 

Abbe d'Estrades was to have the pleasure 
of suggesting it. He proposed to Versailles 
that Mattioli should be seized, abducted, and 
imprisoned " at the King's pleasure." Illegal 
arrests and imprisonments were not extra- 
ordinary in France at any date before the 
Revolution ; but the case of Mattioli was 
unusual. He was, as Ellis says : " actually 
the plenipotentiary of the Duke of Mantua, 
for concluding a treaty with the King of 
France." Although his treachery was known, 
it had not been proved against him ; and, 
from the standpoint of international law, it is 
not an argument that the Duke of Mantua 
was a prince of no political consequence. 
The proposal to seize and carry off his 
minister was, in the circumstances, a proposal 
of brigandage. But it came pat to Louis's 
purpose and intention of revenge. He saw 


the illegality of it ; but, if it could be effected 
without scandal, he asked nothing better. 
Absolute secrecy in the business of the arrest 
was all that he demanded — and his private 
authorisation to d'Estrades was modified only 
by this condition — "that you get him carried 
off without the least suspicion of scandal." 

Satisfied by d'Estrades upon this point, 
Louis sanctioned the kidnapping of Mattioli. 
He was to be conveyed to Pignerol, and 
kept there "in the strictest secrecy." "Look 
to it," ran the closing words of the King's 
order, " that no one knows what becomes 
of this man." 

This was followed by the despatch of 
Louvois to Saint-Mars at Pignerol, dictated 
by Louis, the tone of which is eloquent of 
the mood that inspired it : — 

" Saint-Germain, April 27th, 1679. 
" The King has sent orders to the Abbe 


d'Estrades to procure the arrest of a man with 
whose conduct his Majesty has reason to be 
displeased. I am commanded to acquaint 
you with this, in order that you may not 
hesitate to receive him when he is sent to 
you. You will guard him in such a manner 
that, not only may he have no communication 
with anyone, but that he may have cause to 
repent his conduct, and that no one may know 
you have a new prisoner. 

" De Louvois." 

Instructions in these terms imposed the 
necessity of a ruse ; but the Abbe d'Estrades, 
keen upon requitals, was ready there. 
Mattioli, whose subalpine shrewdness seems 
to have missed him at this highest crisis of 
his life, was quite unaware that Louis and 
his agents had unriddled him. He did not 
know that the Duchess of Savoy had sent 
to Versailles the copies of the papers he had 


shown her. His utter ignorance of the 
danger he stood in made it easy to set the 
trap that must catch him. 

Although vengeance was certainly the first 
motive of Mattioli's arrest, there was another 
which, if the negotiations for Casale were 
to be proceeded with, was not unimportant. 
The Varano who had all along been privy 
to the affair, had instructed d'Estrades, 
through the assiduous Giuliani, that the Duke 
of Mantua would go no further with it while 
Mattioli was at large. The Duke himself 
appears to have been averse from, or at all 
events not inclined to, a personal reckoning 
with the agent in whom he had implicitly 
confided ; but he was willing enough that 
Mattioli should be brought to book by any- 
body else. D'Estrades also learned from 
Varano that Mattioli had privately obtained 
Charles's signature to the treaty (for what 
reason, unless with an eye to blackmail, it 


is impossible to conjecture), and had kept 
the original document, with all other papers 
bearing on the negotiations. By what means, 
asked d'Estrades of Pomponne, were these 
likely to be secured, unless by the arrest of 
Mattioli ? That act, therefore, while gratify- 
ing the vengeance of Louis and his ministers, 
would render possible a renewal of the nego- 
tiations, and would be far from displeasing to 
the Duke of Mantua, whom it was desirable to 
retain in friendship. 

Mattioli was now again in Turin, where, 
as we have seen, d'Estrades was installed 
as French Ambassador ; he was still visit- 
ing the Abbe, and talking and acting as 
though he were as busy as ever in the 
matter of Casale. D'Estrades, with Nemesis 
in his heart, entertained him smoothly ; and 
affected always to believe that everything 
was secure. Through Giuliani, who was 
solid throughout in the interests of the 


French, d'Estrades learned that Mattioli was 
seeking money. His expenses in France, 
his journeys to and fro in Italy, and his 
bribes to win over the Duke's mistresses, 
had drained his purse. D'Estrades sug- 
gested a ready means of replenishing it. 
Catinat (he said), who commanded the 
French troops that were to take possession 
of Casale, was furnished, by the King's 
order, with ample means ; and was prepared, 
by the King's order, to meet every expense 
that might arise. Mattioli took the bait. 
'* Being one of the most consummate rogues 
that ever lived" ("Comme il est un des plus 
grands fripons qui ait jamais este "), wrote 
D'Estrades, " this hint of mine made him 
desperately eager to meet Catinat." 

Catinat was warned, and the meeting was 
arranged. It was to be at a spot " on 
the frontier towards Pignerol " — Catinat, said 
d'Estrades, not being able " to leave the 


neighbourhood where his troops were 
stationed." D'Estrades, not anxious to risk 
his skin, stipulated for " a few well-armed 
men " in Catinat's company : " as I know 
that Mattioli always carries two pistols in 
his pocket, and two others, with a poniard, 
in his belt." 

D'Estrades gave him rendez-vous at six 
o'clock on the morning of the 2nd of May, 
1679, at a church on the outskirts of Turin : 
they were to drive thence to the frontier. 
Unfriendly fortune led Mattioli to the meet- 
ing-place. For months he had failed in the 
appointments which it would have profited 
him to keep ; but he was punctual at the 
one fatal tryst of his life. D'Estrades had 
with him in his carriage a cousin, the Abbe 
de Montesquieu ; and in this company Count 
Mattioli set out for the frontier. 

There had been heavy rains for three 

days, and the streams of that wild region 



were pouring over their banks. One of 
these, the Guisiola, not far from the spot 
where Catinat waited with his men-at-arms, 
the Abbe's party must cross ; but the bridge 
had been damaged by the flood, and the 
horses could only ford the stream by swim- 
ming. This, apparently, the Abbe, precious 
of his charge, declined to risk ; but it was 
possible to make the bridge safe for foot- 
passage, and to work they went — Mattioli 
himself, says d'Estrades, "helping so bravely, 
that in an hour we were able to get across.' ' 
The carriage was left behind, the Abbe 
congratulating himself on getting rid of his 
servants, "as this ensured us a greater 
measure of secrecy." The journey was con- 
tinued on foot, "dans des chemins fort 
mauvais " ; and Catinat, bearing in his hands 
the vengeance of Louis, awaited them at 
the chosen spot. " M. Catinat," writes the 
Abbe, " had made his arrangements so well 


that not a creature appeared with him. 
He led us into a room " ; and then, before 
the real object of the meeting was declared, 
d'Estrades adroitly and insensibly admonished 
Mattioli " respecting all the original papers 
belonging to our affair." Mattioli, who must 
now at last have begun to realise his 
danger, said that all the papers were in 
a box at Bologna, in the hands of his 
wife, who had retired to the convent of 
the Nuns of St. Louis. Upon this, deeming 
his presence not necessary in the scene that 
was to follow, d'Estrades withdrew, accom- 
panied by his cousin ; and Mattioli was left 
with Catinat. At two in the afternoon, 
Saint-Mars had him under lock in the dun- 
geon of Pignerol. 

Catinat's despatch to Louvois (Pignerol, 
May 3rd, 1679) is of soldier-like direct- 
ness: — "I arrested Mattioli yesterday, three 

miles from here, upon the King's territories, 



during the interview which the Abbe 
d'Estrades had ingeniously contrived between 
him, Mattioli, and myself, to facilitate the 
scheme. For the arrest, I employed only 
the Chevaliers de Saint-Martin and de 
Villebois, two officers of M. de Saint-Mars, 
and four men of his company. It was 
effected without the least violence, and no 
one knows the rogue's name, not even the 
officers who assisted. He is in the cham- 
ber which Dubreuil occupied, where he will 
be civilly treated, according to the request 
of the Abbe d'Estrades, until the wishes 
of the King with regard to him are 
known." * 

* "Finally," says M. Funck-Brentano, "we have a very curious 
pamphlet entitled La Prudenza trionfante di Casale, written in 1682, 
that is, little more than two years after the event, and— this slight de- 
tail is of capital importance — thirty years before there was any talk of 
the Man in the Mask. In this we read : ' The Secretary (Mattioli) was 
surrounded by ten or twelve horsemen, who seized him, disguised him, 
masked him, and conducted him to Pignerol ' — a fact, moreover, con- 
firmed by a tradition which in the eighteenth century was still rife in 
the district, where scholars succeeded in culling it." 


Among the papers taken on Mattioli's 
person were none of the series emanating 
from Versailles. These it was essential to 
secure ; they were the tangible proofs of 
Louis's failure. Mattioli had said they 
would be found at Bologna. They were 
not there. Under threats of torture and 
of death, the prisoner at length confessed 
that the original papers were at Padua, 
" concealed in a hole in the wall of a 
room, in his father's house." Thereupon a 
letter was dictated, in which, without a word 
that could betray his situation, Mattioli was 
made to request his father to deliver the 
documents to Giuliani. The father, suspect- 
ing nothing, handed them over : Pinchesne 
presently received them all ; and they were 
forwarded, with rigorous care, to Versailles. 

Louis XIV. was avenged. If he had 
received at the hands of the petty minister 
of a petty prince his first serious check 


in Europe, his retaliation had been swift 
and terrible. Nor did Europe enjoy for 
long the spectacle of the potent King's 
defeat. The guilty principal in the affair 
had already vanished from the sight and 
knowledge of men, into the entrails of 
Pignerol, and would be beheld of them no 
more. The official proofs of the aborted 
enterprise were not less secure under 
Louis's hands than was Mattioli in the 
wardenship of Saint-Mars. The French 
troops had been withdrawn as secretly as 
they had been assembled at BrianQon. The 
whole scheme was renounced so promptly 
that, in Topin's phrase, it seemed, in a 
manner, as though it had never been 
begun.* The Court of Savoy undoubtedly 

* Not, however, that Louis had really abandoned his project. He 
wanted it forgotten only until such time as he could accomplish it with- 
out possibility of failure. The negotiations were resumed two years 
later ; and on the 30th of September, 1681, the French troops were re- 
ceived into Casale. 


had a full knowledge of the intrigue ; 
"but Louis XIV. spoke with a master's 
authority at Turin." Mattioli had un- 
doubtedly made disclosures at Venice as 
at Milan ; but those beguiling lips were 
sealed eternally behind the bastions and 
demi-lunes of Pignerol. And the affronted 
King bore himself as high as ever. He 
demanded and obtained from Spain the 
immediate release of Baron d'Asfeld, im- 
prisoned at Milan ; and the censure of 
Melgar, the governor. At all points, and 
in a space of time the briefest, Louis re- 
covered the prestige which for a moment 
he had sacrificed ; and his personal pride, 
at once delicate and vengeful, was best 
solaced by the certainty that he had swept, 
as he thought, into eternal oblivion the 
agent and chief witness of his short dis- 
credit. Mattioli was given out as dead : 
a story was circulated that he had met 


with a fatal accident on a journey. The 
Duke of Mantua might have doubted this, 
and probably did doubt it ; but he had 
sufficient reason for wishing out of his path 
the agent who, for objects of his own, had 
striven his best to ruin him with Louis 

And the family of Mattioli — why were 
they silent ? Upon this point, history has 
bequeathed us the curious legacy of an un- 
finished tragedy — curious to us, who can 
follow the tragedy to its end. Did his 
family also believe him dead, or were they 
cowed and voiceless under the stroke of 
Louis's wrath ? It is not known. What 
alone is certain is, that he was never found 
by them again. The letter dictated to 
Mattioli, and signed under compulsion, was 
the last that his father received from him. 
His wife died in the convent of the Filles 
de Saint- Louis at Bologna, while he . was 


still a hopeless prisoner : there is no record 
to show that his fate was known to her. 
The space within the genealogical tree of 
the family, which the date of Mattioli's 
death should fill, is blank.* Louis's ven- 
geance smote deep : in annihilating the man, 
it had crushed the family ; and perhaps 
nothing is sadder in the memories of this 
mystery of two hundred years, apart from 
the fate of the Mask himself, than the 
wretched ignorance in which his abduction 
and living burial left his nearest kin. 

* Topin : citing the Arbor prisac nobilisque masculine? families de 




Good night, good night ! 

Romeo and Juliet. 

May be seen to-day, on the flanks 
Dungeon of of Alpine heights, near the source 

Pigneroi Q f t ke streams which go to form 
the rich basin of the Po, the ruins of 
the dungeon wherein Mattioli began the 
long night of his captivity. Close by stands 
the Cathedral church of Saint-Maurice, " dou 
la vue embrasse," says Topin, " le plus 
riant horizon." 

As different as might be was the face dis- 
closed by Pigneroi on the day that Catinat 
carried in his prisoner through the Safety 
Gate — the small secure postern which led 
straight into the recesses of the dungeon. A 
citadel, a dungeon : around the citadel a town, 


itself enclosed within vast fortifications, at the 
entrance of the valley of the Perouse, on the 
river Chisone, seven leagues south-west of 
Turin, twenty-eight from Nice, and thirty 
east of Grenoble — such was Pignerol, the 
Piedmontese town of the 17th century.* 

The little town, which, as early as the 12th 
century, the princes of Savoy had fortified 
for the surety of their possessions, climbed 
upwards in the form of an amphitheatre ; 
with russet roofs and slender campaniles and 
clusters of turret-fashioned chimneys. A 
moat isolated the citadel from the town ; and 
from the citadel the eye followed a double 
line of solid walls, forming a huge paral- 
lelogram, with four high towers for supports : 
in the midst of all, the great square keep or 
dungeon, black of aspect, " aux fenetres 
bardees de fer." The fortifications were 
composed of a series of bastions, half-moons, 

* lung. 


and counter-guards. The two main gates of 
the town were named of France and of 
Turin ; the secret or Safety Gate was 
opened at rare times to admit by stealth 
some prisoner whose guards had been 
ordered not to take him through the town. 

This little mountain bourg of Pignerol,* 
peopled by French troops and Italian sub- 
jects, was not inconsiderable in the 17th 
century. The officers in chief were the 
governor general, the commandant of the 
town, the King's lieutenant governing the 
citadel, the commandant of the dungeon, the 
members of the council of war, and of the 
" conseil souverain " ; a fair posse for a 
world so tiny. There was the perpetual 
va-et-vient of a frontier place : officers from 
Paris or Turin, rejoining their regiments in 
the army of Italy, passed through ; there was 
much traffic and some commerce. 

* Ital.. Pinerolo. 


At the time of the coming of Mattioli to 
Pignerol, the dungeon of that place had 
been for fourteen years the charge of 
.Benigne d'Auvergne de Saint-Mars, seigneur 
of Dimon and of Palteau, bailli and governor 
of Sens. Born in 1626, in the environs of 
Montfort l'Amaury, Saint-Mars died in the 
Bastille, its governor, September 26th, 1708, 
in his eighty-second year. At the age of 
twelve he had entered, as " enfant de 
troupe," the First Company of the King's 
Musketeers. In 1650 he was a full musketeer 
of that Company ; in 1660, brigadier ; and 
" marechal des logis," or quarter-master, in 
1664. The year following, 1665, saw him in 
command of the dungeon of Pignerol, in 
which command he continued until he went 
to the fortress of Exiles in 1681. Louis XIV. 
granted him a patent of nobility in 1673. 
At the date we are arrived at (1679), Saint- 
Mars was in his fifty-fourth year ; of sinister 


renown in Pignerol : the gaoler quintessen- 

lung calls him " un vrai bouledogue," 
but that term is applicable chiefly in the 
moral sense. Observe him outwardly, as he 
creeps, almost a-tiptoe, through the mazes of 
his prison : a small shrivelled person, 
shadowy of figure, wizen and dark of face, 
little head bobbing nervously betwixt the 
narrow shoulders, arms and hands twitching. 
" A mortal ugly little man, looking eighty 
at the least ; all bent and tottering ; inces- 
santly in a passion ; swearing and blas- 
pheming horribly ; inexorably cruel." This 
is the unsympathetic portrait left of him by 
Constantin de Renneville, a prisoner of the 
Bastille when Saint-Mars was about seventy- 
four. " Inexorablv cruel " seems not alto- 
gether just ; indeed, I find few traces of 
active cruelty in Saint- Mars's career as 
gaoler ; but a man so inflexible and so callous 



in doing the bidding of King or minister could 
be nothing but the ogre of his prison. 

It is proper to spare him the charge of 
unnecessary cruelty, for his memory is void of 
sympathy : on the one side, an unimaginative 
pedant who has no rule for his prison but 
the strictest letter of his orders from Ver- 
sailles ; on the other, a mean and greedy 
type of the soldier of fortune, always 
whining for money and always bemoaning 
his lot. He had peculiar relations with the 
minister Louvois. His wife's sister was 
Louvois's mistress, and he can ask nothing 
of Louvois which Louvois does not grant. 
The ideal gaoler, harassed incessantly by 
fears for the safety of his prisoners, he 
packs his coffers with the moneys sent him 
for their keep. Holding them as wards of 
the King, whom he served like a slave, 
watching them so closely that he was himself 
a prisoner in his own prisons for over forty 


years, these charges of his were still, in his 
private view, his " sitting hens"* ("aux 
ceufs d'or ") ; and they were a fortune to 
him. He left silver plate, furniture, jewels, 
six hundred thousand francs of ready money, 
and seign,eurial property worth ten million 
francs. Among the governors of the prison- 
fortresses of France, most of whom enriched 
themselves at the cost of their prisoners and 
of the State, the position and the possessions 
of Saint-Mars were unique. As commandant 
of the dungeon of Pignerol he held his 
authority directly from the minister, owing 
no responsibility either to the governor 
general or to the King's lieutenant ; as 
Louvois's relative (upon the left) he held the 
minister in fee ; and what he asked of him 
was granted in advance. 

But, as the prince of gaolers, Saint-Mars 
was worth humouring. His discretion was 

* lung. 


proof against all temptation ; and such was 
his habit of distrust, in what concerned his 
prisoners, that the distrustful Louvois him- 
self found it possible at times to chide his 
over-caution. Uneasy, timorous, and taciturn, 
the duties of his office gave him never a 
moment's rest. The King's orders were 
fulfilled with a servile exactitude : to discuss 
them, says Topin, would have seemed a 
crime, to seek to interpret them was super- 
fluous. No prison wall was high enough or 
stout enough, no moat was deep enough 
or wide enough, no bars or bolts were 
strong enough, no sentinel was watchful 
enough, no spy alert enough to keep that 
anxious soul at rest. He carries every 
detail of his cares to Louvois ; matters the 
most puerile are constantly rehearsed in his 
despatches. Does a stranger come to the 
town on business or a visit of pleasure ; if 
his sojourn is prolonged, Saint-Mars is 



certain that a plot is hatching to carry off 
some prisoner from the dungeon. Nay, if 
the stranger shows some little curiosity con- 
cerning the citadel, Saint-Mars arrests him out 
of hand, and holds him captive during a pro- 
longed examination. " Lists of the travellers 
coming to Pignerol were drawn up for him 
every month, that he might see what names 
occurred too frequently. The prisoners' linen 
before being sent out of the dungeon, was 
soaked in water, then dried before a fire in 
the presence of officers who had to make 
sure that nothing had been written upon it. 
The smallest change in the habits of his 
prisoners drove Saint-Mars into a fever of 
anxiety. In everything they did, and in 
everything they abstained from doing, he 
saw the signal of some criminal attempt ; and 
one day, after his usual visit to Fouquet and 
Lauzun, and his rigorous examination of their 
rooms, discovering nothing out of the 



common, he was first surprised, and then 
exceedingly alarmed. The absence of any- 
apparent signal was in itself a signal for 
him. . . . After reading his naive and 
sincere correspondence, one is tempted to 
pity him almost as much as the prisoners 
in his keeping ; since, enjoying a scarcely 
greater liberty than they did, the perpetual 
fears that he suffered on their account 
rendered him in some sort their victim." * 

Such was the man into whose hands Catinat 
gave Count Mattioli on the 2nd of May, 1679. 
" He is in the chamber which Dubreuil 
occupied, where he will be treated civilly, 
according to the request of the Abbe 
d'Estrades, until the King's wishes with re- 
gard to him are known." Already, however, 
the prisoner had lost his identity, for he was 
passed into Pignerol, and received there, 
under the name of Lestang : as Lestang, and 

* Topin. 


by no other name, was he known in the 
fortress, — save only to Saint-Mars. " The 
King's wishes with regard to him" were very 
soon made known. In less than a fortnight 
from the day of Mattioli's arrest — the 15th 
of May — Louvois wrote Saint-Mars concern- 
ing him " . . . . that it is not the 
intention of the King that the Sieur de 
Lestang should be well treated, or that, 
except the absolute necessaries of life, you 
should give him anything to soften his cap- 
tivity." Thus "the most generous King" — 
whose commands are renewed on the 20th 
of the month. "Your letter of the 10th of 
this month " — it is Louvois again to Saint- 
Mars — "has been delivered to me. I have 
nothing to add to what I have already 
commanded you respecting the severity 
with which the person named Lestang must 
be treated." Two days later, May 22nd : 
" You must keep Lestang in the rigorous 


confinement I enjoined in my former letters, 
without allowing him to see a doctor, unless 
you know he is in absolute want of one.'' 
Later, July 25th, Saint-Mars receives in- 
structions that his prisoner may have writing 
materials ; scarcely, however, for his own 
solace. " You may give paper and ink to 
the Sieur de Lestang, with permission to 
put in writing whatever he wishes to say. 
You will then send it to me, and I will let 
you know whether it deserves any considera- 

From the picture that history has left us 
of Saint-Mars, it is easily inferred that he 
would read aright the instruction to treat a 
prisoner "with severity": but the proof 
itself is not wanting. We have seen that 
Mattioli was arrested in the beginning of 
May, 1679. In eight months from that 
time the rigours of his imprisonment had re- 
sulted in the temporary loss of his reason 


He was neither the first nor the last of the 
State prisoners of pre-Revolutionary France 
whom the dungeon reduced to madness. 
Consider that these places were virtually 
impenetrable ; that there were no inspectors 
of prisons, no visiting justices ; and that the 
governor in his dungeon wielded a power 
scarcely less tremendous than the King at 
Versailles. There was no system of ad- 
ministration under which the prisoner could 
stand upon his rights, with privilege of 
appeal beyond the prison walls ; he had no 
rights — save what were granted him as 
peculiar favours. He depended in all things 
upon the governor : a miserly governor 
might starve and keep him cold and meanly 
clad ; a cruel one had darker means at his dis- 
posal, and used them — the torture, the whip, 
the subterranean cachot were always there. 
In eight months Mattioli had grown mad. 
On the 6th of January, 1680, Saint-Mars 


wrote to Louvois : — " I am obliged, Sir, to 
inform you, that the Sieur de Lestang is 
become like the monk I have the care of; 
that is to say, subject to fits of raving mad- 
ness ; from which the Sieur Dubreuil also is 
not exempt." The methods of Saint-Mars 
were rather fatal to sanity ; here were three 
lunatics together at one time in Pignerol. 
In the third week of February: "The Sieur 
de Lestang, who has been nearly a year in 
my custody, complains that he is not treated 
as a man of his quality, and the minister of 

a great prince, ought to be I 

think he is deranged, by the way he talks 
to me ; telling me he converses every day 
with God and the angels ; that they have 
told him of the death of the Duke of 
Mantua and of the Duke of Lorraine ; 
and, as an additional proof of his madness, 
he says he has the honour of being nearly 
related to the King, to whom he wishes to 


write in complaint of the way I treat him. 
I have not thought proper to give him 
paper and ink for that purpose, perceiving 
him not to be in his right senses." 

Versailles was quite unmoved by these 
recitals. Louvois, with the King behind 
him, was still hardening his heart. Even 
the consolations of religion were to be ad- 
ministered within the very narrowest limits 
imposed by the Church. " It will be suffi- 
cient to let the prisoners of the lower 
tower " — in which Mattioli was confined — 
" confess once a year." In the same de- 
spatch, the ioth of July: — "With regard to 
the Sieur de Lestang, I wonder at your 
patience, and that you should wait for an 
order to treat such a rascal as he deserves, 
when he is wanting in respect to you." 

Then the mad Mattioli was put with the 
mad Jacobin ; an economy on the part of 
Saint-Mars, "to avoid the necessity of having 


two priests." Mattioli, imagining the monk 
a spy upon him, " walked about with long 
strides, his cloak over his nose, crying out 
that he was not a dupe." The Jacobin, 
11 who was always seated on his truckle-bed, 
with his elbows on his knees, looked at him 
gravely, without listening to him " ; but one 
day, "getting down from his bed, stark 
naked," he set on preaching, " without rhyme 
or reason " ; and preached till he could 
preach no longer. With a naivety of con- 
fession most characteristic, Saint- Mars adds : 
" I and my lieutenants saw all their 
manoeuvres through a hole above the door." 
This is a sore history, not to be too 
long pursued. Nearly all that is known 
of Mattioli's life in Pignerol is concen- 
trated into this' glimpse of the poor frenzied 
pair, mewed together in their narrow 
Bedlam, with " I and my lieutenants " watch- 
ing them behind the door. Yet it was 


better to be mad than sane — in Pignerol — 
with Saint-Mars. 

Fifteen years Mattioli lay here ; lived fif- 
teen years on the vapours of Pignerol. A 
solitary instance is recorded, pathetic enough 
in the circumstances, of his attempt to win 
over one of the lieutenants of Saint-Mars, 
Blainvilliers by name, by the offer of a ring. 
In some raving hour the prisoner had 
written "abusive sentences with charcoal on 
the wall," and Blainvilliers had threatened 
him with beating. A day or two later, as 
the officer was serving him with dinner, 
Mattioli said : " Sir, here is a little ring, 
which I wish to give you, and I beg you to 
accept of it." Saint-Mars, in his inevitable 
report to Louvois, conjectures it "well worth 
fifty or sixty pistoles " : it was probably the 
ring which Mattioli had received from 
Louis XIV. 

Concerning Pignerol, the rest is silence. 


Mountain and wood and stream hem round 
that altitude of grey-black stone, where 
Louis's prisoner sits through fifteen spectral 



It has been rightly said that the 
interest of Count Mattioli's captivity 

Inquisition * ■* 

01 juies owes everything to the supposition 

Loiseleur. . . • t • ' 1 1 

that we have in him the actual 
Man in the Mask. So closely did the 
jealous anger of the King conceal him, 
that his life in prison, mysterious even to 
the creatures of Saint-Mars, has left scarcely 
a trace in the real history of Pignerol, 
of the Isles, or of the Bastille. Legend, 
indeed, abounds ; but facts are of the 
scantiest. Was this in truth the Man in 
the Iron Mask ? 

Who first sought to identify him ? Let 
us summarise briefly on this head the ex- 
haustive perquisitions of Topin. To begin 


with, there is the political pamphlet already 
cited, La Prudenza trionfante di Casale, 
published in Cologne in 1682. Here is set 
forth in detail the whole negotiation, with 
the parts played by the Abbe d'Estrades 
and Mattioli, Giuliani and Pinchesne, Catinat 
and d'Asfeld, and the Duke of Mantua. 
Five years later, in 1687, a compilation issued 
at Leyde under the title Histoire abregee de 
I'Ettrope gave the translation in French of 
an Italian letter denouncing the abduction 
of Mattioli. There is then a long interval. 
In 1749, Muratori, in his Annali a" Italia, 
related the history of the intrigue for Casale, 
and the capture of the Duke of Mantua's 
plenipotentiary. In 1770 appeared the letter 
of Baron d'Heiss in the Journal Encyclo- 
pedique, in which he says : "It appears that 
this Secretary to the Duke of Mantua might 
very well be the Man in the Iron Mask, 
transferred from Pignerol to the Isles of 


Sainte-Marguerite, and thence to the Bastille 
in 1690,* when M. de Saint-Mars became 
governor of that place." In 1786, the Italian 
Fantuzzi, in his Notizie degli scrittori 
Bolognesi, summed up what had hitherto 
been written on the subject. The same 
opinion, that Mattioli was the Man in the 
Mask, was sustained in the year of the 
Revolution by the i( Chevalier de B.", in a 
volume entitled Londres. — Correspondance 
interceptee. In November, 1795, M. de 
Chambrier, who had been Prussian minister 
at the Court of Turin, essayed to prove in 
a lecture delivered to the Belles-Lettres 
class at the Academy of Berlin, that Count 
Mattioli and the Man in the Iron Mask 
were one and the same individual, f Just 
one hundred years ago appeared the pamphlet 

* It was in 1698 that Mattioli came to the Bastille. 

t Mentioning the subject one day to a very intelligent German lady 
of my acquaintance, she replied : "Mattioli? Yes, of course. We 
were taught that at school." 


of Roux-Fazillac, who was the first to publish 
documents in support of his case. Much 
more complete, however, were the documents 
of Delort, whose small, well-reasoned treatise, 
Histoire de P Homme au Masque de Fer y was 
published in Paris in 1825. By permission 
of Comte d'Hauterive, Keeper of the Archives 
of the Office of Secretary of State for the 
Foreign Department, Delort examined and 
made excellent use of all the despatches 
known at that day. The history that he 
drew from them seemed conclusive. It is, 
in effect, the true history ; but, as will be 
seen, it is the true history with a very 
important error. Ellis's work, which appeared 
a year or two later (the second edition, whith 
is before me, is dated 1827) was little more 
than an adaptation of Delort's. Camille 
Rousset, in his Histoire de Louvois, rehearses 
once more the story of the negotiations, and 

says : " We share the opinion of those who 



hold that the Masque de Fer was none other 
than Mattioli." Depping, in his Correspondance 
administrative sous Louis XIV., is of the 
same mind. 

Except, however by Roux-Fazillac and 
Delort, there was little attempt to prove that 
the person arrested and carried to Pignerol 
on the 2nd of May, 1679, was identical with 
the prisoner who died in the Bastille on the 
19th of November, 1703. And that, of course, 
constitutes the knot of the problem. " That 
Mattioli was seized in 1679 by a French 
agent, and forcibly carried to Pignerol — 
this, as we have seen, was a fact which had 
long been known. But that intrigue is no 
longer our sole concern : a mere preliminary 
of the question which engages us. What 
is essential is, to follow the minister of the 
Duke of Mantua from prison to prison, and 
to see not only whether he might have been, 
but whether it is impossible that he should 


not have been, that mysterious prisoner 
brought by Saint-Mars in 1698 from the 
Isles of Sainte-Marguerite to the Bastille, 
where he died in 1703. Delort believed 
that he had proved it. His conviction was 
profound, and to many his demonstration 
seemed irrefutable."* But the documents 
discovered by Delort did not contain the 
whole history ; the omissions, in fact, were 
serious, and we are now to see how a keen 
examiner, detecting them, with one stroke 
of his pen shattered the system — and left 
the riddle of the Mask apparently insoluble 
to the end of time. 

Mattioli was incarcerated in Pignerol on 
the 2nd of May, 1679. At this date the 
dungeon held, besides Fouquet and Lauzun, 
four other prisoners concerning whom it is 
necessary to note that they were quite obscure 
and unimportant persons. One of them, 

* Topin. 



Eustache Dauger, brought to Pignerol in 
July, 1669, had served Fouquet in the capacity 
of valet. Another, the Jacobin monk whom 
we have seen sharing his cell with Mattioli, 
and who had been imprisoned in April, 1674, 
is branded by Louvois as " a finished rogue, 
whom you cannot treat badly enough." He 
was to have " no fire in his chamber, unless 
he is ill or the severity of the cold compels 
it, and no other nourishment than bread 
with wine-and- water." The two remaining 
prisoners were a certain La Riviere and the 
Dubreuil whose name has been mentioned. 
So insignificant were these, that when Saint- 
Mars was called from the government of 
Pignerol to that of Exiles, Louvois asked 
ot him a memoir furnishing their names and 
the reasons why they had been imprisoned. 
It is clearly not among prisoners of such small 
consideration, prisoners of whom the Minister 
knows neither the names nor the causes of 


their detention, that we shall find the Man 
in the Mask. Fouquet died at Pignerol in 
March, 1680. Lauzun was released the 22nd 
of April, 1 68 1. 

On the 1 2th of May, 1681, Louvois 
announced to Saint-Mars that the King had 
appointed him to the command of the fortress 
of Exiles. On the 9th of June the Minister 
wrote again, instructing Saint-Mars as to the 
precautions to be observed respecting the 
journey from Pignerol of those of his prisoners 
who were to be removed. 

" His Majesty's desire is, that as soon as 
the room at Exiles, which you shall judge 
the most proper for the safe keeping of the 
two prisoners in the lower tower, shall be 
ready to receive them, you send these prisoners 
out of the citadel of Pignerol in a litter, and 
conduct them there under the escort of your 
troop . . . Immediately after the pri- 
soners' departure, it is his Majesty's wish 


that you proceed to Exiles, to take posses- 
sion of the government, and to settle yourself 

Here were two prisoners to be removed. 
A word follows concerning " the rest of the 
prisoners now in your charge," which it will 
be important to remember at the final stage 
of the enquiry. " The Sieur de Chamoy," 
says Louvois, " has instructions to pay two 
crowns a day for the maintenance of these 
three prisoners." There were thus five 
prisoners in Pignerol on the eve of the 
departure of Saint- Mars for Exiles. 

The prisoners to be removed were the two 
prisoners of the lower tower. The lower 
tower was, as we have seen, the prison of 
Mattioli and the Jacobin monk : what more 
natural, then, than to conclude that these 
were the two whom Saint-Mars carried with 
him to Exiles ? This was the obvious view 
adopted by Roux-Fazillac, Delort, and all 


investigators up to the time of Topin. Was 
it the true one ? 

In the course of years the climate of Exiles 
affected the health of Saint-Mars ; and the 
ever-obliging Louvois procured him a change 
of government. Early in 1687 he was called 
to the Isles of Sainte- Marguerite- Saint- 
Honorat, in the Sea of Provence. To the 
fortress of Sainte-Marguerite he took one 
prisoner only. The date was the 30th of 
April, 1687. Delort and the rest, determined 
not to lose sight of their candidate for a 
moment, declared that this " seul prisonnier " 
must be Mattioli. No name was mentioned, 
and definite proof was lacking ; but probability 
favoured the conjecture. 

Let us see how it is established that one 
alone of the two prisoners brought from 
Pignerol to Exiles was carried from Exiles 
to the Isles. A few days before the close 
of 1685 (December the 23rd), Saint-Mars 


wrote to Louvois : " My prisoners are still 
ill, and under medical treatment. They are, 
however, perfectly tranquil." In the autumn 
of the following year, one of the prisoners 
was dropsical. "You ought to have told 
me," writes Louvois, October 9th, 1686, 
"which of your prisoners has become 
dropsical." He writes again on the 3rd of 
November : " It will be proper to let your 
dropsical prisoner be confessed, when you 
are certain that his end is near." In the 
first days of January, 1687, the prisoner 
died. " I have received your letter of the 5th 
inst.," writes Louvois (January 13th, 1687), 
"which informs me of the death of one of 
your prisoners. I will say no more concern- 
ing your desire for a change of govern- 
ment, since you have already learned that 
the King has been pleased to confer on you 
a better post than the one you are in posses- 
sion of." The death of one of the prisoners 


brought by Saint-Mars from Pignerol to 
Exiles is thus demonstrated. Was it Mattioli 
or the other ? Delort and his contemporaries 
concluded, positively for the most part, that 
it was the other. 

They overlooked, however, one fact of the 
extremest significance. It was, that from the 
date of this death at Exiles Mattioli s name 
disappears entirely from the correspondence of 
Louvois and Saint- Mars. Now there may 
be nothing absolutely conclusive in this ; but, 
taken with the testimony of the death, it 
seems to plunge into hopeless uncertainty 
every system which has sought to solve 
through Mattioli the mystery of the Man in 
the Mask. Such was the terribly destructive 
criticism of Jules Loiseleur, in the Revue 
Contemporaine* a criticism which demolishes 
those systems in a fashion the most decisive. 
If Mattioli and the monk were the two 

* July 2 1 st, 1867. 


prisoners whom Saint-Mars carried to Exiles 
(and we have seen that their removal was 
ordered by Louvois) ; if one of the pair died 
of dropsy at Exiles in January, 1687 (and 
the document in proof has been cited) ; and 
if from this date Mattioli's name vanishes 
from the letters of Louvois and Saint-Mars 
— with what confidence may it be pretended 
that Mattioli was the masked man borne in 
secret by Saint-Mars to the Bastille in 
September, 1698 ? " His demonstration,'' 
wrote a contemporary critic of Loiseleur, " at 
once luminous and peremptory, has ex- 
hausted the question ; and, in default of fresh 
documents, no serious mind will ever return 
to it." Topin confesses that after reading 
and re-reading this demonstration,* he could 
resolve no otherwise than that the secret of 
the Mask was and would remain impenetrable. 

* Refuted, nevertheless, by him in so far as concerned Loiseleur's 
hypothesis of the arrest of the spy by Catinat. 



Comes the question then : has 

The Missing . _ - . . 

the Man in the Mask once more 


Revealed by and finally eluded us ? Let us go 
a step further. Baudry had said 
of the inquisition of Loiseleur, that it had 
exhausted the problem ; that, if other docu- 
ments were not forthcoming, no serious 
mind would return to its consideration. 
But it has been stated before, and the 
statement must be repeated, that the whole 
truth of this strange drama was not con- 
tained in any single set of documents. 
Louis XIV. was little likely to leave us the 
epitome of it ; and no minister who had 
part in the affair ever forgot the King's 


command to d'Estrades : // faudra que 
personne ne sfacke ce que cet homme sera 
devenu, — No one must know what becomes 
of this man. His very name had already 
disappeared, save only for those few who 
had known it from the first. At Pignerol, 
he was Lestang ; in the Bastille, he was 
the prisoner from Provence. Apart from 
the brief but pregnant documents of the 
Bastille, to be presented when their time 
comes, his identity was only to be made 
good by the comparison of innumerable 
despatches, " not one among which furnishes 
by itself an irrefutable proof, but which in 
their entirety, with the logical deductions 
that may be drawn from them, conduct to 
an absolute certainty." * 

But there could be no doubt that, after 
Loiseleur, fresh documents were necessary, 
if this certainty were ever to be attained. 

* Topin. 

A Corner of the Fort of Exiles. 


These documents were found by Topin. 
The passage in which he explains how 
he first imagined their existence, and then 
went on to prove it, is peculiarly interest- 
ing, as showing both his extreme mental 
ingenuity and the inexhaustible patience 
with which he pursued a task now regarded 
as well - nigh impossible of completion. 
There comes first a letter, of which, at 
sight, the significance is less than nothing : 
a letter from Louvois to Saint- Mars, dated 
January 5th, 1682. At this time Saint- 
Mars has been but a few months at 
Exiles ; but he is already clamouring for a 
change of government, and has evidently 
been sounding Louvois on the subject. 
Louvois replies : 

" I received your letter of the 28th ult. 
You do not know where your interest lies, 
when you propose to exchange the govern- 
ment of Exiles against that of Casale, the 



value of which is only two thousand livres 
a year.* I strongly advise you not to think 
further of it." 

There is no more in the despatch than 
that. It suggests nothing but the interest 
of Louvois in the personal fortunes of 
Saint-Mars, whose sister-in law was the 
minister's mistress. Saint-Mars, incessantly 
grasping (and suffering in health at Exiles), 
seeks another change of place : Louvois 
responds that the change he proposes will 
put nothing into his purse. It is the letter, 
not of the minister to the gaoler, but of the 
minister to his friend : it is a strictly per- 
sonal communication. What, then, is its 
value as a counterpoise to the criticism of 
Loiseleur, which showed — upon the docu- 
ments put in — that Mattioli, if he did 
not die of dropsy at Exiles, did at all 
events disappear incontinently from the des- 

* The amount which Saint- Mars was receiving at Exiles. 


patches which, up to this point, had been 

almost solely occupied with him ? 

The supposition is still, of course, that 

Mattioli was one of the two prisoners whom 

Saint-Mars carried with him from Pignerol 

to Exiles. Just here, however, the doubt 

comes in that suggested itself to Topin. If 

Mattioli were with Saint-Mars at Exiles, 

what more imprudent than that he should 

propose to take him — an Italian subject 

forcibly stolen from Italy — into an Italian 

town, and a town Mantuan in its hereditary 

interests ! If it were in any way possible 

that Mattioli should discover himself to 

friends, he would at least have a better 

chance of doing so in Casale than at Exiles. 

How did this not occur to Saint-Mars ? 

And, if it missed the sleepless intelligence 

of Saint-Mars, how came it also to be passed 

by Louvois ? But Louvois evidently has not 

a thought of danger. His sole motive in 



dissuading Saint-Mars from Casale is that 
his pocket would profit nothing by the ex- 
change. Mattioli, whom it would have been 
unwise to carry back into Italy, is not so 
much as mentioned. Then Mattioli, perhaps, 
was not at Exiles at all, and had never 
been sent there ? This was the inspiration 
that Topin drew from the colourless despatch 
of Louvois. 

The chance of success in this direction 
was a very feeble one ; for the despatch of 
Louvois was extant, ordering the removal of 
the two prisoners of the tour d' en das, the 
lower tower, to which Mattioli and the monk 
had been relegated ; and the despatch had 
closed with the injunction that " the effects 
belonging to the Sieur de Mattioli which 
are in your possession are to be taken to 
Exiles, so that they may be given back to 
him, should his Majesty ever decide to set 
the prisoner at liberty." This was categorical. 


Still, Topin's doubts persisted. If Mattioli 
were indeed at Exiles, how could Saint-Mars 
propose to transfer him to Casale ? And 
how did Louvois let that proposal pass un- 
rebuked ? With these questions pricking him, 
Topin returned to the Bibliotheque Imperiale 
to begin the search anew — and the missing 
link revealed itself. 

It was found in a letter from Saint-Mars 
to d'Estrades, bearing date June 25th, 1681. 
Saint- Mars, the least gregarious of men, had 
sworn an ardent friendship with the Abbe, 
and he hastens to share with him the news 
of his appointment to Exiles. " Count on 
me as your most devoted. I received yesterday 
the warrant appointing me to the governor- 
ship of Exiles, at a salary of two thousand 
livres. . . . I am to take with me two 

jail-birds * whom I have here 

Mattioli remains where he is, with two other 

* " Deux merles." 


prisoners. One of my lieutenants, named 
Villebois, will have charge of them." 

Mattioli, therefore, was not the prisoner 
who died at Exiles in January, 1687. He 
never went to Exiles at all. The purpose 
indicated in Louvois's despatch, of the 9th 
of June, 1 68 1, had been abandoned; and 
Mattioli remained at Pignerol, where he will 
be found in the keeping of Villebois. The 
long silence of Louvois and Saint-Mars 
concerning him thus receives its natural 

The perplexity, the scepticism which Loise- 
leur's examination had produced, vanished 
upon this discovery. Mattioli was at Pignerol 
and at the Isles and in the Bastille ; Delort's 
error, which for a time cast into uncertainty 
the whole history of the Mask, lay in re- 
moving him from Pignerol to Exiles. There 
are two traits or characters in the history 
of the Mask which attach themselves to 


Mattioli alone, of all the prisoners whom 
Saint-Mars had in his keeping : the unvarying 
tradition of his detention at Sainte-Marguerite, 
and the documental certainty of his detention 
at Pignerol. In Du Junca's journal, the 
prisoner whom Saint-Mars brings to the 
Bastille in September, 1698, is an ancient 
prisoner whom he had at Pignerol. Exiles 
finds no place in the entry. We know that 
Saint-Mars had Mattioli in his charge during 
two years at Pignerol, and Topin has shown 
that the prisoner was not transferred to 
Exiles. But for that unfortunate error, which 
is principally identified with Delort, the pro- 
blem might long since have been resolved. 



Most visitors to the Riviera have 


prisoner of ma de the little trip to the Isles 
consequence. of Sainte - Marguerite and Saint- 
Honorat, enticed by the piquant legend of 
the Man in the Iron Mask. A good woman 
discovers you his cell, charms you and thrills 
you with stories of his fine apparel, his 
plate, and the deference shown him by Saint- 
Mars : poor Mask, who had no fine clothes 
and no plate, and whom the deferential 
gaoler had threatened with a cudgel ! The 
Isles owe most of their celebrity to what is 
purely fabulous in this history, but they have 
other annals also. 

Lying some fifteen hundred yards from the 
shore, the two islands, of which Sainte- 


Marguerite is the larger, are as sentinels over 
the pleasure-haunts of Nice, Cannes, and San 
Remo. Rock and reef lend some amount of 
danger to the approach. Within, the Isles 
are dark with pine trees, cumbered and 
strengthened with shaggy hills, gigantic 
boulders. Climbing Sainte-Marguerite's top, 
the traveller's eyes are filled with a marvellous 
golden light ; before him undulates on either 
hand all that sun-bathed shore of the Riviera ; 
he counts the glistening villas of Cannes ; 
grey-green hills of olive rise beyond ; to the 
left streams out the long chain of the Esterel, 
" with contours brusque and varied " ; and on 

the right the Maritime Alps cast up their 
"thousand years of snow." 

The Romans were here once ; hermits have 
dwelt in these island solitudes; the Saracens 
have invaded and the Spaniards have sacked 
them. * In the dawn of the fifth century 

* Topin. 


Saint- Honorat founded here a monastery, 
greatly celebrated of the Gauls, where "thou- 
sands of apostles " practised virtue and the 
monkish arts. On the smaller island is 
still shown the well which the saint created, 
yielding a miraculous sweet water. Here 
came Francis I., prisoner of the Spaniards 
after the disastrous field of Pavia, to endure a 
harsh captivity. Here,, to Sainte- Marguerite, 
was sent, in December, 1873, . Marshal 
Bazaine, who broke prison and escaped the 
night of the 9th of August, 1874. The two 
islands bear the common name of the lies de 
Lerins. The memory of the Iron Mask, 
whose prison was the fortress of Sainte- 
Marguerite, has conferred on the Lerins a 
celebrity which seems likely to endure. 

Hither, then, came, in 1687, the most incor- 
ruptible gaoler, Saint-Mars. He had received 
word of his new appointment on the 20th of 
January ; he was in ill-health, and eager for 


the healing South. He wrote to Louvois : — 
" I am most grateful for the new favour which 
his Majesty has just bestowed on me (the 
Government of the Isles of Sainte-Mar- 
guerite). If you order me to proceed there 
without delay, I would request to be allowed 
to take the road through Piedmont, on account 
of the great quantity of snow that lies between 
this place and Embrun." He went to Sainte- 
Marguerite in February, and was twenty-six 
days in bed, " with a continual fever." 

Mattioli, this while, supposed at Exiles, lay 
close in Pignerol. We have glimpses of the 
guard that was kept upon him. Villebois, 
chained to his prisoner, seems never to have 
been allowed to leave the dungeon. In such 
a nervous fit as Saint-Mars was almost inces- 
santly a prey to, he wrote to Louvois, asking 
to whom he should entrust the prisoner, 
supposing he were incapacitated by sickness ; 
and Louvois replied : " To the person you can 


most rely on." Even the priest of the prison 
was distrusted — " Your prisoners are to be 
confessed only once a year." Books of 
devotion might be given to them ; but " you 
are to take care they do not use them for 
passing notes to one another." One night 
someone is . suspected of haunting a bastion 
gate of Pignerol, and Villebois is instructed to 
" do your utmost to discover who the person 
was." There is a rare effort of Mattioli — the 
only one that records prove — to disclose his 
situation : he writes something on a lining 
torn from his pocket. It is discovered, and 
communicated to Versailles, and the answer is 
returned- — "You must burn any scraps on 
which Mattioli has written." The walls of 
Pignerol, and the road beneath, were strictly 
watched ; the sentinels had orders to let no 
one linger about the gates. 

Saint-Mars, on his part, while at Exiles, 
had enjoyed a measure of liberty that he 





had never known when guarding Mattioli 
at Pignerol. He went on little visits to 
d'Estrades, to Catinat ; he paid his court 
to the Duke of Savoy ; he was allowed 
from time to time to sleep out of the gaol. 
" Madame de Saint- Mars having told me," 
writes Louvois, in March, 1685, "that you 
wish to go to the baths of Aix-en-Savoie, 
I spoke about it to the King, and his 
Majesty commands me to say that you may 
absent yourself from Exiles for that purpose 
for a period of from fifteen days to three 
weeks." Even at the Isles, at first, Saint- 
Mars was comparatively at his ease. u The 
King consents to your taking a holiday two 
days in the month, and permits you to return 
the visit of the governor of Nice." These 
were the relaxations of the period when Saint- 
Mars had charge only of "two jail-birds." 

On a sudden, the 26th of February, 1694, 
there is a mandate from Versailles, inform- 


ing the commandant that three prisoners 
of State are to be sent from Pignerol to 
the Isles. The minister* enquires "if there 
are safe places to hold them," and bids 
the governor make all needful dispositions 
to receive them. A second letter, March 
the 20th, contains a passage of capital 
significance: "You know in effect that they 
are of greater consequence, at least one, 
than the prisoners now at the Isles ; and, 
preferably to those others, you should see 
that they are lodged in the most secure 
quarter of the prison. The courier who 
bears this despatch takes with him also 
fifteen hundred livres for preliminary ex- 

Thus was announced the coming of 
Mattioli, with the two remaining prisoners 
of Pignerol. 

* This was Barbezieux, the successor of Louvois, who died 
in 1691. 


The great Louis, who took his vengeances 
cruelly, was falling on his evil days. The 
disruption was beginning which should end in 
the cataract of the Revolution. In Italy 
the situation had been sadly modified since 
the epoch at which Louis had first sought 
to treat as autocrat for the purchase of 
Casale. He no longer spoke there with a 
master's voice ; " his arms had ceased to 
be ever-victorious, and he was already 
expiating his impolitic and inopportune 
intervention in the affairs of the Peninsula " 
Casale must be abandoned ; Pignerol, too — 
that " precious acquisition of Richelieu," 
which had been practically a French town 
for sixty years. 

Mattioli in the heart of his dungeon felt 
the effects of the King's reverses. The 
restoration of Pignerol by Louis explains 
his removal to the Isles. Once more, how- 
ever, a deep secrecy falls upon him ; he is 



never at this time alluded to by name in 
the despatches. " Now more than ever, 
in a word, was it imperative to hide 
from the sight and knowledge of all, this 
victim of an audacious and inexcusable 
violation of the rights of men. Europe's 
discontent with Louis XIV. was extreme ; 
his interest lay in appeasing this discontent ; 
and in these circumstances it was of the last 
importance to cover with an impenetrable 
mystery an existence which recalled at once 
the dangerous ambition, the audacity, and — 
not less than these — the humbling of a great 

Never, accordingly, were such extra- 
ordinary precautions taken for a journey of 
this nature. The Marquis d'Herleville, 
governing the citadel of Pignerol, and the 
Comte de Tesse, commanding the French 
troops in that place, had orders " to furnish 
the escort, and the monies necessary for 


the expenses of the road " ; and it was 
strictly enjoined upon de Tesse " that he 
should not seek to know the names of the 
prisoners." A strong escort was provided ; 
two sure guides were sent in advance ; and 
the governor of the dungeon of Pignerol 
went with the litter of the prisoners, with 
instructions to let no one but himself 
attend on them. Thus they came mys- 
teriously to the Isles. / 

In that litter so closely escorted, three 
prisoners fared, one of whom was of greater 
consequence than the others. Now, after the 
death of Fouquet and the release of Lauzun, 
there was not at Pignerol any considerable 
prisoner save Mattioli. Note, too, that when 
Saint-Mars went to Exiles, it was to 
Villebois that the charge of Mattioli was 
assigned — Villebois, who had shared with 
Catinat the mission of arresting him : further. 

that on the death of Villebois, it was another 



of Saint- Mars's lieutenants, Laprade, who 
was sent from the Isles as governor of 
the dungeon of Pignerol. Saint-Mars had 
therefore not lost sight of his ancient 
prisoner ; he had been in touch with him 
throughout. At Exiles, and during the 
first period of his command at the Isles, 
Saint-Mars, with the King's permission, 
had quitted his charge when it pleased him : 
there comes from Pignerol this prisoner of 
consequence, and Saint-Mars leaves the 
Isles no more. " From this moment," says 
Topin, " Saint-Mars never stirs from his 
prison." At this time, too, Barbezieux, who 
has not until now displayed the least 
anxiety, is solicitous of knowing what would 
befall at the Isles should sickness overtake 
Saint-Mars. New measures of precaution 
are proposed by Saint- Mars, and approved 
by the minister. The bolts from the 
dungeon of Pignerol are sent to Sainte- 


Marguerite. Time does not weaken this 
scrupulous watch, as appears by the follow- 
ing significant despatch from Versailles, 
November 17th, 1697: — 

" I have received with your letter of the 
10th of this month the copy of the one 
written you by Mons. de Ponchartrain con- 
cerning the prisoners who are at the Isles of 
Sainte-Marguerite, in accordance with the 
King's orders, signed by him or by the late 
Mons. de Seignelay. You have simply to 
address yourself to the safe keeping of all 
the persons entrusted to you, and to see 
that no one ever learns what your ancient 
prisoner has done." 

Can the words " your ancient prisoner " 
bear any meaning save one : a prisoner who 
was formerly in your keeping and who has 
again been confided to you ? The phrase 
could not possibly apply to the prisoner 
whom Saint-Mars had brought to the Isles, 


for he arrived there in 1687, and it was 
scarcely to be supposed that at the end of 
ten years the inhabitants of Sainte-Marguerite 
had grown suddenly curious as to the cause 
of his detention. But their curiosity was 
natural enough in respect of the three who 
had arrived in the midst of that formidable 
escort, for whose reception extensive pre- 
parations had been made, and one at least 
of whom had been lodged in the strongest 
part of the prison. 

The passage from Topin which follows 
seems definitely to clinch the argument : — 

" Pignerol was given up to the Duke of 
Savoy shortly after the arrival of the new 
prisoners at the Isles. I have searched 
during the ten years (1698- 1708) which fol- 
lowed the departure of Saint-Mars for the 
Bastille, all the despatches exchanged be- 
tween Lamothe-Guerin, his successor at the 
Isles, and the Court of Versailles. The 


name of Mattioli is nowhere to be found in 
them, nor is there mention of any prisoner 
of importance left behind by Saint- Mars." 

We know that Mattioli was at Pignerol at 
the end of 1693 (only a few months before 
the removal of the three prisoners), for it 
was in December of that year — the 27th — 
that the minister was in communication with 
Laprade about the prisoner's attempt to write 
something on the lining of his clothes. The 
three who were transferred in 1694 were all 
old prisoners of Saint- Mars, and Mattioli 
alone among them possessed any considera- 
tion. When, therefore, Saint-Mars is strictly 
bidden to keep from everyone the know- 
ledge of " what your ancient prisoner has 
done," there is but one conclusion to draw 
— that the reference is to the affair which 
Versailles continued to call " the treason of 
Count Mattioli." 



Both at the Isles and in the 


SiIver Bastille, the life of Mattioli — if 
Dish • life it may be called — seems to 
have been as wretched, as inexpressibly 
blank, as in the dungeon of Pignerol. 
The despatches say nothing more of mad- 
ness ; but, by the time he came to the 
Isles, Mattioli had suffered during fifteen 
years a form of captivity which might have 
shattered, and which must certainly have 
enfeebled, the very strongest intellect. One 
of the most grievous pains of imprisonment 
under the old regime must have been the 
total lack of profitable or engaging employ- 
ment. The tasks of prison, during a long 


sentence of penal servitude, are seldom 
cheerful, and cannot but be monotonous ; but 
they do at least fill the greater portion of 
the convict's life, they stay his mind from 
too much brooding, and they offer to in- 
dustry a means of climbing from an inferior 
to a higher class. But the prisoners of State 
under the French monarchy had no tasks, 
and could only with difficulty create their 
occupations or their recreations. And the 
history of Mattioli is desolate above the 
average. If his mind were not dead within 
him, his existence during all those years is 
terrible to contemplate. Guiding ourselves 
solely by the light of proved despatches, re- 
jecting absolutely all such evidence as will 
not stand that test, we find scarcely a trace 
of solace or relief in that protracted martyr- 
dom. A few " books of devotion," grudg- 
ingly doled out ; the yearly visit of a priest : 
that is all. In this respect, as in others, 


the history of Mattioli is nearly without a 
parallel. Of how many prisoners of State 
is it recorded that, during a captivity of 
years, they neither found nor were granted 
any means of softening the unutterable soli- 
tude of prison ? Fouquet read and wrote ; 
procured herbs and plants from the hills, and 
dabbled in pharmacy ; and was at last united 
to his family. Mirabeau in Vincennes com- 
posed that devastating essay on Lettres de 
Cachet which foreshadowed the Revolution. 
Conde cultivated pinks. Cardinal de Retz 
played chess, and received his friends. 
Trenck carved scrolls and mottoes on his cups. 
Voltaire polished verses. Pellisson's spider 
is famed. Latude and others tamed pigeons, 
rats, and mice. Bunyan and Cervantes found 
an immortality in the dungeon. The annals 
of the Bastille embrace one dainty love affair, 
that of Mdlle. de Launay (the Madame de 
Staal that should be) and the young Chevalier 


de Menil. Diderot in Vincennes received 
the visits of Rousseau and D'Alembert, and 
talked Plato and Socrates with them in the 
garden. In days near our own, Louis 
Napoleon called the fortress of Ham his 
University. Even in the prisons of Russia, 
within the stretch of recent memory, prisoners 
of both sexes have contrived to communicate 
freely by means of a pre-arranged code of 

But between Mattioli and all the living, 
the gulf is absolute. Four-and-twenty years 
revolve for him in a silence almost un- 
broken. Intellect and the " life of life in 
the heart " must staunch and be swallowed 
up in that appalling and incredible sterility 
of existence. Time scarcely modifies in any 
degree the pitiless character of his captivity. 
During four-and-twenty years he seems not 
to have seen one friendly face ; and it is 
almost certain that not a message ever 


reached him from the world which he had 

One day in those loathed seats was the 
pattern of all. Saint-Mars has left us in a 
letter to Barbezieux a precise account of the 
manner in which, when he was ill or other- 
wise engaged, his lieutenants waited on the 
prisoners : — 

" The first of my lieutenants, 

who takes the keys of the prison ot my 
ancient prisoner, with whom we commence, 
opens the three doors and goes in. The 
prisoner politely hands him the plates and 
dishes, laid one on another, and the lieutenant 
has only to pass through two doors to give 
them to one of my sergeants, who places them 
on a table two steps away, where is the second 
lieutenant, who examines everything that 
comes into and goes out of the prison, and 
sees that nothing has been written on any 
of the vessels. After they have given him 


the utensil, they make a thorough examina- 
tion of the bed, then of the gratings and 
windows of the room ; and very often the 
prisoner himself is searched. After enquiring 
civilly whether he wants anything, they lock 
the doors, and visit the other prisoners in 
like manner." 

The " ancient prisoner," Mattioli, is here 
in the strictest solitary confinement, and it 
is evident that these perfunctory visits of 
Saint-Mars or his lieutenant — with the 
humiliating accompaniment of the daily search 
— represent his sole intercourse with his 
fellow-men. An existence so barren, so 
deadly drear, as that of a Mattioli or a 
Prisoner of Chillon, may be a fit theme for 
tragic poetry, but is of little service to the 
makers of romance. Fable accordingly has 
always been extremely busy with this prisoner 
of Saint-Mars, who was for generations the 
most mysterious creature in history. Things 


true or partly true of other prisoners have 
grouped themselves around his memory ; 
other things speak only for the imagination 
of their inventors. The legend of the silver 
dish (which includes Papon's variation) be- 
longs to the period of Sainte-Marguerite. 
Already referred to, it has a foundation in 
fact, but does not touch the history of the 
Mask. The revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes, in 1685, had filled the prisons of 
Louis XIV. with those French Protestants 
and their clergy who had not fled the 
country; and many ministers of the proscribed 
faith were sent from time to time to Sainte- 
Marguerite. It was through one of these 
prisoners for his faith that the tale of the 
" silver dish " arose. A certain Salves, un- 
known to history in any other relation, is the 
source it traces from. Along with a com- 
panion unnamed, Salves fell in trouble with 
Saint-Mars, who, in accordance with his 


invariable rule, posted the matter to Ver- 
sailles. Nothing escaped Saint-Mars ; for 
what he did not see his lieutenants did not 
dare to withhold from him ; and all went in 
detail to the King. 

" The first of the Protestant ministers who 
have been sent here," he wrote (June 4th, 
1692), " sings psalms night and day at the 
top of his voice, to let it be known who and 
what he is. I forbade him several times, on 
pain of punishment ; and I have had to 
punish him at last. I have taken a similar 
course with his comrade Salves, who has a 
mania for scribbling, and who has written 
things on his pewter vessels and on his linen, 
to publish it that he is imprisoned unjustly 
for his religion." 

Out of this petty memorandum from the 
gaoler to the minister two writers have 
furnished the most sensational incident in 
the legend of the Iron Mask. Voltaire's 


fisherman came off with his life, it is true : 
Pere Papon's monk did not ; and there are 
so few points at which the memory of 
Saint-Mars makes appeal to us that it is 
grateful to spare him the charge of that 
imaginary murder. 

With the story of the silver dish is linked, 
in the popular fancy, the story of the laces 
and fine linen. There is not a hint of 
this in the despatches, and nothing that 
Saint-Mars omits to mention is to be 
received ; for he is little less than childish 
in his incessant appeals to Versailles on 
every point that concerns even the obscurest 
of his prisoners. It is a corollary of Voltaire's 
libel on Anne of Austria, but it has not the 
basis even of that remote history of the silver 
dish. A solitary figment of Voltaire, it goes 
with the rest of his invention. The first 
order of Louis XIV. will be remembered, that 
Mattioli should have nothing " except the 


absolute necessaries of life " — among which 
it is improbable that either Louis or Louvois 
would include the frills and laces of the age. 

Point by point, what is legendary in the 
record of the Mask gives place to history. 
Tradition has found him with a guitar, and 
old prints depict it ; but every picture of 
the Man in the Mask is a fantasy, and 
no guitar passed unsanctioned into any 
prison of Saint- Mars. 

To the fifteen disintegrating years in 
Pignerol were joined four at the Isles of 
Sainte-Marguerite ; day yielding ever to 
night in the prisoner's life through all that 
tragic cycle. And fate had not yet done 
with him. 

2 1 

3 22 


On the first of March, 1698, 
Saint-Mars received from Versailles 


to the the offer of the government of 
the Bastille. The salary was rich, 
the office one of trust and dignity, and 
Paris was Paris : Saint-Mars accepted the 
offer at once. Nothing further passed until 
the 17th of June, when Barbezieux wrote 
again from Versailles : — 

" I have been long in answering your 
letter of the 8th of last month, as the King 
had not explained his intentions to me. I 
am now to inform you that his Majesty 
is pleased at your acceptance of the govern- 
ment of the Bastille. You can have 
everything in train to be ready to start 


when you receive the final word ; and 
bring with you in all security your ancient 

" I have arranged with Mons. Saumery 
to give you two thousand crowns for the 
transport of your effects. " 

On the 19th of July there came a third 
despatch from Barbezieux, confirming what 
had gone before, and emphasising the 
importance of guarding the prisoner on the 
journey " in such a manner that he shall 
be seen by no one." Two months later, 
in the middle of September, when the days 
were shortening, Saint-Mars set out with 
him to traverse the whole of France. At 
this point the reflection arises that had the 
affair of the Mask been a scandal of the 
Court, and the prisoner a person whose 
features revealed a royal origin, it would 
have been strangely and curiously impru- 
dent to bring him to a dungeon in the 



heart of Paris — where chance might so much 
more easily discover him than in that dis- 
tant fastness lapped by the Sea of Provence- 
There could be no grave reason why the 
Italian Mattioli should not be carried to 
the Bastille ; there was every prudent reason 
of State why a brother of the King should 
not be carried there. But, as we shall 
see, it was unquestionably the Man in 
the Mask who made the journey with Saint- 

A glance at the map of France will show 
what a journey this was at the jog-trot 
pace of the litter. No detailed itinerary 
exists, but we know where the principal halt 
was made. In the central department of 
Yonne is the town of Villeneuve-le-Roi, once 
called the Ante-room of the Popes, now 
desolate and lifeless. Near Villeneuve is the 
chateau of Palteau, a property belonging to 
Saint-Mars, and here he halted with his 


prisoner. * Reference has been made in the 
Introduction to the letter of M. de For- 
manoir de Palteau, grand-nephew of Saint- 
Mars, in which this episode is described. 
The letter, bearing date June 19, 1768, was 

* Saint-Mars was not the man to loiter on the road, with a prisoner 
of State in his keeping, and it is unlikely that the stay at Palteau ex- 
ceeded a night or two. But wherever the Masked Man came legend 
laid hold upon his memory, and Villeneuve-le-Roi has appropriated 
him. There is in Villeneuve a vast old ruined fort, with castellated 
drum-towers, and cells and chambers in abundance. Now Saint-Mars 
and the Mask would probably take Villeneuve on their way to Palteau ; 
at all events, that close-guarded litter, watched with an awful wonder 
from Provence to Paris, must have passed very near. What more apt 
than to imagine for the Mask a period of captivity in the fort of Vil- 
leneuve-le-Roi ! It has been done. In a pleasant volume of wander- 
ings, " In the Rhone Valley , " Mr. Charles W. Wood tells how he was 
shown the cell by a nun, as her piece de resistance. " Most interesting 
of all was a small remote doorway, and the nun looked wonderfully 
picturesque as she bent down and applied the key to the lock, her black 
graceful dress standing out in strange contrast with the ancient and 
splendid masonry. Then she threw open the door and we entered a 
dark circular chamber that was half cell. In tones that thrilled her 
hearers and echoed in the roof, she said : ' This is the room in 
which the Man with the Iron Mask was confined, before he was 
taken to another and more open part of the fort.'" Mr. Wood, 
accepting the statement in good faith, adds: "We almost felt on 
sacred ground." 


addressed to Freron, of the Annee Litt'eraire, 
and published in the issue of June 30. 

" In 1698, " writes M. de Palteau, " M. de 
Saint-Mars passed from the charge of the 
Isles of Sainte-Marguerite to that of the 
Bastille. On his way, he stayed with his 
prisoner on his estate at Palteau. The Man 
in the Mask came in a litter which preceded 
that of M. de Saint-Mars ; they were 
accompanied by several men on horseback. 
The peasants went to greet their lord ; 
M. de Saint-Mars took his meals with his 
prisoner, who was placed with his back to 
the windows of the dining-room which over- 
looked the courtyard. The peasants whom 
I questioned could not see whether he wore 
his mask while eating, but they took note of 
the fact that M. de Saint-Mars, who sat 
opposite to him, kept a pair of pistols beside 
his plate. They were waited on by one 
man-servant, who fetched the dishes from 


the ante-room where they were brought to 
him, taking care to close behind him the 
door of the dining-room. When the prisoner 
crossed the courtyard, he aways wore the 
black mask ; the peasants noticed that his 
teeth and lips showed through it ; * also 
that he was tall and had white hair. M. de 
Saint-Mars slept in a bed close to that of the 
masked man." 

There could be nothing simpler than this 
statement. The writer has no hypothesis of 
his own, and no leaning towards any other 
hypothesis. He is content to report what he 
had learned by word of mouth from the old 
people on the estate who had actually seen the 
prisoner in the mask at Palteau.f The detail 
of chief importance in the account is the mask ; 

* Clearly, the little velvet half-mask which may be seen to-day at 
any bal masque in Carnival. 

t The chateau of Palteau still stands where it did. The dining-hall 
in which Saint-Mars faced his prisoner, with pistols by his side, is 
now, says M. Funck-Brentano, a kitchen. 


and this is verified by the entry in Du Junca's 
journal, when the veiled prisoner arrives at the 
Bastille. We have kept touch of this prisoner 
so far, and have found under his velvet mask 
no features but those of Mattioli. A prisoner 
of particular consequence is transferred from 
Pignerolto the Isles, and at the date of his 
removal there is only Mattioli of consequence 
in that prison. His name ceases, but he is 
identified with the "ancient prisoner" of sub- 
sequent despatches. This " ancient prisoner " 
is the one whom Saint-Mars is instructed to 
carry from the Isles to the Bastille. The 
prisoner alights at Palteau, and it is observed 
by the peasants on the estate that he wears a 
mask. The journey ends at the Bastille ; and 
Du Junca, the King's Lieutenant of the prison, 
notes in his journal that the prisoner whom 
Saint-Mars brings from the Isles is an ancient 
prisoner whom he had at Pignerol, and that 
he is masked. Even in the Paris of that day 


the use of the mask was not unknown ; but 
there is absolutely no other instance in French 
history of its employment to conceal the 
identity of a prisoner : hence the naive wonder 
which may be read between the lines of 
Du Junca's entry. 

This note in the register or journal kept by 
the King's Lieutenant of the Bastille is, as 
M. Funck-Brentano observes, " the origin and 
foundation of all that has been printed on the 
question of the Iron Mask." The journal itself 
(the original is in the Arsenal Library) is the 
work of an unlettered official who spells 
atrociously, and knows nothing of punctua- 
tion. When a new prisoner was received 
Du Junca wrote down the particulars of his 
coming, and the first of the entries with which 
this history is concerned is as follows, in a 
translation as literal as possible. 

" On Thursday, 18th September (1698), at 
three in the afternoon, M. de Saint-Mars, go- 



vernor of the chateau of the Bastille, presented 
himself for the first time, coming from his 
government of the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite- 
Honorat, having with him in his litter a pri- 
soner who was formerly in his keeping at Pig- 
nerol, whom he caused to be always masked, 
whose name is not mentioned : on descending 
from the litter, he had him placed in the first 
chamber of the Baziniere tower, waiting until 
night for me to take him, at nine o'clock, and 
put him with M. de Rosarges, one of the ser- 
geants brought by the governor, alone in the 
third chamber of the Bertaudiere tower, which 
I had had duly furnished some days before his 
arrival, by order of M. de Saint-Mars : the 
aforesaid prisoner will be served and seen to 
by M. de Rosarges, and maintained by the 

Such is the famous entry which records the 
coming of the Mask to the Bastille. He 
passed in there as mysteriously as he had 




y? Jaj<ms~ 

\ogt{v-~- le?* 

Entry in the Register of the Bastille. 

By the courtesy of Messrs. Downey and Co. 


entered Pignerol nineteen years earlier, and 
the Isles in 1694. That the staff of the Bastille 
had not the least idea who he was is rendered 
certain by the names he received from them. 
He was " the Prisoner from Provence," most 
often ; sometimes " the ancient prisoner " — 
the term so closely identified with Mattioli. 
It is clear that at first his isolation was 
as rigorous as it had ever been. Rosarges 
alone waited on him. No fellow-prisoner 
shared his captivity in the third chamber 
of the Bertaudiere tower. What tales 
would filter through the Bastille, what 
fables would begin to grow around him, 
even while he sat there — the unknown who 
wore the mask ! 

But time was passing even for the Man 
in the Mask. Casale was no longer 
French ; the negotiations which had issued 
so fatefully for Mattioli were old history ; 
the whole affair was out of mind : its 


importance had utterly ceased. Note how 
this affected the Mask in 1701, twenty-two 
years after he had been thrown into Pignerol. 
No pardon came for him, nor was he granted 
the ease in his dungeon which was allowed 
at last to Fouquet. His fate was infinitely 
more pitiful ; he fell from his estate in the 
prison, he was degraded among the com- 
monest of the Bastille's inmates. 

He had been confined in the third chamber 
of the Bertaudiere tower. From this he was 
removed, the 6th of March, 1701, to make 
room for one Anne Randon, " devineresse 
et diseuse de bonne fortune," witch and for- 
tune-teller : the Man in the Mask displaced 
by a common sorceress ! He was then put 
by Du Junca, whose Journal is the authority, 
into " the second Bertaudiere," which he 
shared with a certain Thirmont or Tirmont. 
This man, embastilled in July, 1700, had 
been a domestic servant ; he was only nine- 


teen years of age, and had been accused of 
atheism and black magic, and of corrupting 
young girls : quite an ordinary type of the 
rogue and charlatan of the age. Some six 
weeks later these two were joined by a 
third prisoner. The entry is in Du Junca's 
Journal. " Saturday, April 30, at about nine 
in the evening, M. Aumont the younger 
came, bringing with him and handing over 
to us a prisoner named M. Maranville, but 
calling himself Ricarville, formerly an officer 
in the army, a malcontent, a tattler, and a 
rake ; whom I received by the King's orders, 
sent through the Comte de Pontchartrain, 
and placed with the man Tirmont, in the 
second chamber of the Bertaudiere tower, 
along with the ancient prisoner, both being 
under lock and key." 

The Bastille of this date held accommo- 
dation for no more than forty-two prisoners, 

separately confined. In 1701 it was exces- 



sively full, and three prisoners were locked 
into one chamber : the servant Tirmont ; 
Maranville alias Ricarville, whom the police re- 
port described as " of a beggarly appearance " ; 
and the Man in the Mask. In October, 1708, 
Maranville was sent from the Bastille to 
Charenton prison, where he died. Tirmont 
was transferred in December, 1701, to the 
horrible Bicetre, half-prison, half-madhouse. 
He became insane two years later, and died 
in 1709. 

Now, for a moment, let this situation of 
the Mask, cheek by jowl with this sorry 
pair, be considered in the light of the 
Legend. It is an awkward situation for the 
Legend ! The prisoner has been immured 
twenty-two years, in a seclusion the strictest 
and most cruel, his name and his identity 
withheld from everyone, for the reason that he 
is the depository of some tremendous secret 
of the State. He has been hidden under a 


mask all this time, because, forsooth, if he 
were not so disguised, he would be recog- 
nised as the brother of Louis XIV. And lo ! 
this holder of the dread secret, this royal 
twin or bastard who so fatally resembles the 
King, is suddenly sent to keep company with 
two gaol-birds of the Bastille. The prison 
becomes crowded, a lady in trouble for 
telling fortunes is among the new arrivals ; 
and of so much greater consequence is she 
than this redoubtable prisoner who has been 
under seal for two-and-twenty years, that his 
room in the Bertaudiere is immediately 
assigned to her. The fortune-teller has the 
dignity of a separate chamber ; the Mask is 
thrust in with the lackey Tirmont, and 
Maranville presently makes a third. The 
two common fellows are bye-and-bye moved 
from the Bastille — having had the fullest op- 
portunity of learning and disseminating that 
stupendous secret. This is not a little curious 


— considered in the light of the Legend. 
What, indeed, becomes of the Legend ? 

But if the reader is with us in this inquiry, 
with Delort and Topin and M. Funck- 
Brentano, this decline in importance of the 
prisoner who had hitherto been all-important 
has already received its explanation. With 
the lapse of time, the man and the political 
intrigue he had been concerned in had quite 
ceased to be of consequence to anybody. 
Mattioli had no secret to reveal. Should 
he divulge the affair of Casale ? No one at 
that date would have been a penny the 
worse. Should he speak of his long and 
torturing captivity ? Alas ! captivities as harsh 
as his were none so rare at that era : pity 
indeed the tale might excite ; it could excite 
no extreme degree of wonder. In fine, at 
the epoch of 1701 the prisoner of the Mask 
had nothing to communicate which could 
disturb for an instant the repose of Ver- 


sailles ; — and they suffered him to sink to the 
level of those vulgar delinquents who passed 
in and out of the Bastille. 

This fact, which we owe to M. Funck- 
Brentano's scrutiny of the Journal of Du 
Junca, disposes of the interesting tale that, 
after the prisoner's death, everything in his 
room was burned, " linen, clothes, cushions and 
counterpanes " ; the flooring taken up and 
the walls scraped and whitewashed again. 
We have just seen his room in the occu- 
pation of the adventuress Randon, which 
would be upon the order of Saint-Mars ; 
and that heedful man is not at all concerned 
to know whether his prisoner — who may 
henceforth be shifted anywhere — has left 
behind him any trace of his identity. Were 
this anything but fiction, it would be found 
in Du Junca. He is a Pepys in minuteness 
whenever he finds matter for his pen ; his 
details of the prisoner's death in 1703 are 


precise, but he has nothing else to tell. 
If, after the prisoner's death, his cell had been 
even whitewashed, we should have learned 
it from Du Junca, who wrote everything that 
came to his knowledge, but with no more 
notion than Pepys that he was writing for 
posterity. The story, in fact, traces, through 
Pere Griffet, to a Major of the Bastille, 
Chevalier by name, who did not come upon 
the scene until 1749. For many years it was 
accepted, but it vanishes in the search-light 
of M. Funck-Brentano, and is now but an 
item of the Legend. It is self-evident that 
there was no motive for destroying the traces 
of a prisoner who, two years before his death, 
had been given ample opportunity to reveal 
himself, and who was thenceforth insignificant. 
This tragedy was now very near its closing 
scene. So far as records are concerned, the 
two remaining years are blank ; and the 
imagination does not willingly attempt to 


re-create them. For the spectacle of the 
Mask degraded from his eminence of mystery 
cast unregarded among the coarser tenants 
of his dungeon, affects the mind, perhaps, 
even more painfully than the vision of him, 
solitary in his Alpine cell, or vainly inter- 
rogating the waters of the Isles ; narrowly 
surveyed, the veritable prisoner of State. 
Hope must have fled him for years ; we do 
not find him petitioning Louis, or appealing 
to Charles of Mantua : he sat " with close- 
lipped patience," or, if patience had not found 
him, it were better to know nothing of what 
passed within that lonely brain. 

Under date of the 19th of November, 
1703, Du Junca wrote, in the Register which 
he reserved for entries of the death or 
liberation of prisoners of the Bastille * : — 

"The same day, November 19th, 1703, the 
prisoner unknown, masked always with a 

* The translation is as literal as is possible. 


mask of black velvet, whom M. de Saint- 
Mars, the governor, brought with him from 
the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite, and whom he 
had had for a long time, happening to be 
rather unwell yesterday on coming from mass, 
died this day at about ten o'clock in the 
evening, without having had any serious 
illness ; indeed it could not have been slighter. 
M. Giraut, our chaplain, confessed him yes- 
terday, and is surprised at his death. He 
did not receive the sacrament, and our 
chaplain exhorted him a moment before he 
died. And this unknown prisoner, confined 
so long a time, was buried on Tuesday at 
four in the afternoon, in the cemetery of 
St. Paul, our parish ; on the register of 
burial he was given a name also unknown. 
M. de Rosarges, major, and Arreil, surgeon, 
signed the register." 

A marginal note to the left of the entry 
ran as follows : — 

~jv.i>^w/ &&$ Hoc* <fhuy 

if 7tef?wri4: nwiu-pU. &srf*c^ 
. T7V0 7nm4r a^u^vd f/usfc. ****** 



•<nvQ^$- 7 g»<QcnL>ru_ ,iptl tz^ttl- a*Ayfac67i*> 

Entry in the Register of Saint Paul's. 

By the courtesy of Messrs. Downey and Co. 


" I have since learnt that he was named 
on the register M. de Marchiel, and that the 
burial cost 40 livres." 

The entry in the register of Saint Paul's, 
discovered later, reads : — 

"On the 19th (1703) Marchioly, aged 
forty-five or thereabouts, died in the Bastille, 
whose body was buried in the churchyard 
of St Paul, his parish, the 20th of this 
month, in the presence of M. Rosage (sic), 
major of the Bastille, and M. Reglhe (sic) 
surgeon major of the Bastille, who signed.— 
" Signed : Rosarges, Reilhe." 

The written names in the entry are 
examples of the slovenly, inaccurate spelling 
of the age. The person who sets them 
down is ignorant even of the names of the 
two officers of the Bastille by whom his 
register is signed : Rosarges is " Rosage," 


Reilhe is " Reglhe." " Marchioly " is re- 
markably close to Mattioli when it is re- 
membered that Saint-Mars would probably 
have given the name by word of mouth ; 
it is still closer if he spoke it, as he often 
wrote it in his despatches — " Martioly " in- 
stead of Mattioli. In the despatches of 
Louvois it is sometimes " Marthioly," which, 
with the difference of a letter, is the name 
on the register. In others, it is " Matioli," 
" Matheoli," &c. All proper names were 
stumbling-blocks to the writers of despatches 
in that era ; whether educated like Louvois, 
half-educated like Saint-Mars, or as totally 
unlettered as Du Junca. 

The age assigned to the prisoner, "forty- 
five or thereabouts" instances again the utter 
indifference and lack of care with which 
these entries were made. Probably, how- 
ever, no one in the Bastille, not even Saint- 
Mars, knew Mattioli's age. Born in 1640, 


he was sixty-three at the date of his death. 
According to Delort, he told the apothecary 
of the Bastille that he was sixty ; a close 
guess for one who had lost count of time for 
near a quarter of a century. 

So fades and vanishes that tragic figure. 



If there had been no mask in 
the case ? The fascination of the 
history has centred there. Had Saint-Mars 
not carried his prisoner from the Isles to the 
Bastille in that provoking domino, his story, 
like enough, had never engaged the curiosity 
of the world. Stories as sinister and sad 
have oozed from the shades of the Bastille, 
of the Conciergerie, of Bicetre, of the 
Chatelet — stories which never had audience, 
or which have lain for generations among 
forgotten things. But the mask has per- 
petuated itself; and, so simple as it proves, 
it has kept alive, through an infinity of 
changes, the memory of the prisoner whom 
it hid. 

Q. E. D. 35 1 

And the mask was really nothing. 

From the instrument of torture invented 
by Voltaire, it shrinks to the little fashion- 
able shield of black velvet which every 
Italian gentleman had in his wardrobe ; 
which was de rigueur in Carnival time ; and 
which both Mattioli and the Duke of 
Mantua used as a matter of course in their 
private interviews with d'Estrades. In the 
Legend, the mask is everything : in the 
true, documentary history of the Masked 
Man it figures scarcely at all. We know 
from Du Junca's Journal that the prisoner 
was masked when he entered the Bastille ; 
but this is the first official notice on the 
subject. No document attests that he wore 
the mask at Pignerol or at the Isles. 
Saint-Mars does not anywhere allude to it ; 
nor is there any injunction about a mask in 
any despatch from Versailles. Louis XIV. 
never gave the order which has been attri- 


buted to him ; Louvois never gave it ; Bar- 
bezieux never gave it. Up to the date of 
the entry into the Bastille, the mask seems 
to have been not much more than an acci- 
dent of the history ; there is only the 
statement in the Prudenza trionfante di 
Casale that the prisoner was masked by the 
persons who arrested him. 

We have it from Du Junca that in the 
Bastille the prisoner was " masked always." 
Without the least straining at the facts 
this may be interpreted to mean that he 
wore his mask whenever there was occa- 
sion for him to be seen. And this the 
prisoner may have done of choice ; there 
are times and seasons in prison when it 
would be a convenience and a relief to 
possess this ready means of disguising one- 

Pere Griffet, chaplain of the Bastille in 
1745, observes in his Methode de Fhistoire: 

G. & D. 353 

V There is nothing to show that he was 
obliged to wear his mask when alone in 
his chamber, or in the presence of de 
Rosarges or the governor, by whom he 
was perfectly well known." If compelled 
to wear it at all, " it would only be when 
he crossed the courtyard to attend mass, 
in order that he might not be recognised 
by the sentinels, or when some person on 
the staff, not privy to the secret, was sent 
into his chamber." On the whole, it might 
be conjectured that the mask was an in- 
spiration of Saint-Mars when he fetched 
his prisoner from the Isles to the Bastille, 
and that it was afterwards adopted by the 
prisoner himself, who secured thereby the 
slight liberty or relief of the incognito. 

But, let the origin of its employment 
have been what it may, this velvet vizor 
was to bear a part not less than astonish- 
ing in the fable of the Masked Man. 



This was not only natural, but, in a sense, 
inevitable. I believe that the Legend 
itself had no other genesis than the 
mystery of the mask. The sense of 
surprise which it produced in Du Junca 
was immediately communicated to the 
whole staff of the Bastille. Time flowed, 
but the mask was still the great memory 
and tradition of the fortress. The prisoner 
himself—" Marchiel," " Marchioly," Mattioli 
— remained unknown : Du Junca's Journal 
was not yet laid bare, the St. Paul's 
register was a sealed book, the State 
documents had not become the nation's 
property. But the steady, continuous, and 
provocative tradition of the mask lived on 
within the walls of the Bastille. There 
it was found by the many students, 
philosophers, and men of letters who lay 
behind those bolts for longer or shorter 
terms in the eighteenth century. Voltaire 

Q. E- £>. 355 

was imprisoned in the Bastille in 17 17, 
and again, for a few days (most unjustly), 
in 1726. Here, in the very theatre of 
the mystery, these inquisitive keen minds 
got the earliest inkling of it ; and one 
poor shred of fact was even then gather- 
ing to itself both surmise and invention. 
It is an officer of the Bastille who sees 
in imagination the stripping and rehabili- 
tating of the prisoner's cell : where, then, 
would the flight of a Voltaire end ? : — whose 
was the face beneath the mask ? The men 
of letters, released from the Bastille, fastened 
on this rare enigma ; and those among 
them who saw here a means of involving 
in new discredit the imperious sovereignty 
of Louis XIV., rose gladly to the oppor- 
tunity. The mask, and the reason of the 
mask : these were the things to account 
for. So, unquestionably, did the Legend 

begin to be. 

23 * 


But now, at last, was Mattioli indeed 
the man ? It was objected to Topin, that 
the complete silence on this subject of the 
copious Saint-Simon (who has peeped into 
almost every cupboard in the Court of 
Louis XIV.) made an important count 
against him. Topin shrewdly saw that 
Saint-Simon's silence made, not against, 
but for him. " That immortal gossip has 
in truth lighted up for us the very holes 
and corners of Louis XIV.'s Court. From 
its pettiest shifts to its innermost intrigues, 
nothing has escaped him ; nothing that had 
to do with inner France. But of foreign 
affairs he knew only those that concerned 
the end of the reign, when they were in 
the hands of his friend the Marquis de 
Torcy. Earlier than this, he was as igno- 
rant of what passed beyond the borders of 
France as he was intimate with everything 
that passed within them. His silence, then, 

Q. E. D. 357 

which would be more than strange if it 
were possible to trace the Mask to a 
family of France, is its own interpreta- 
tion if the prisoner were a foreigner, 
arrested beyond the French frontier, and 
as early as 1679." * 

This is distinctly suggestive ; though, as 
testimony, it has of course, only a negative 
value. We come closer. At whatever point 
in the enquiry the mysterious prisoner is 
named, there has Mattioli been found ; and 
to no other among the prisoners of Saint- 
Mars has the term proved applicable. The 
political role of Mattioli has been defined, 
the circumstances set forth in which he fell 
under the vengeance of Louis XIV., and 
incurred that terrible punishment — inflicted, 
as Maurice Boutry says, " dans si grand 
secret." We have the King's order for his 
arrest with the particular injunction that no 

* Topin. 


one is ever to know what becomes of him ; 
we have Catinat's report of the seizure of 
Mattioli, so well contrived that even the 
officers who assisted him were ignorant of 
the prisoner's name ; we have the witness 
of the Prudenza trionfante di C as ale, in 
which the transaction is described from 
the beginning. This was the man whom 
Louis XIV. destined to end his life in 
prison, and from the hour that he entered 
Pignerol he has been observed, followed, 
step by step, to the night of his death in the 

But this is not all. The proof does not 
end here. It is shown in the Journal of 
Du Junca that the prisoner whom Saint-Mars 
brought masked from the Isles was an ancient 
prisoner who had been in his keeping at 
Pignerol, the first of Mattioli's three dungeons, 
and the one in which he remained when other 
prisoners were transferred with Saint- Mars 

Q. E. D. 361 

to Exiles. Du Junca has made Pignerol 
essential in the history of the Mask. We 
come now to the axiomatic proof of M. Funck- 
Brentano. The reader was asked to bear 
in mind the despatch of Louvois to Saint- 
Mars (June 9, 1 681) enclosing instructions 
for the journey of the two prisoners who were 
to be taken from Pignerol to Exiles. The 
despatch speaks then of the prisoners who 
were left, and their number is precisely 
shown, the Sieur du Chamoy having orders to 
pay " two crowns a day for the maintenance 
of these three prisoners" It is certain then 
that there were just five prisoners in Pignerol 
on the eve of Saint-Mars's departure for 
Exiles, and since we know from Du Junca 
that the Mask was an old prisoner of Saint- 
Mars at Pignerol, it is among these five that 
we must inevitably find him. All the five 
are known to us ; their names have happened 
in these pages : — 



Eustache Dauger. A prisoner of so little conse- 

quence that he was assigned as a 
servant to Fouquet in Pignerol, 
while Mattioli, in the same prison, 
was still in the strictest seclusion. 

La Riviere. Died in December, 1686. 

The Jacobin. Died at the close of 1693. 

Dubreuil. Died at the Isles, 1697. 


A Euclid could give the result no plainer. 
As M. Funck-Brentano observes, with a just 
complacency, it is mathematical. There are 
five : the first is dismissed on his merits ; 
the three that follow are dead before Saint- 
Mars sets out for the Bastille — and Mattioli 
alone remains. De facto, it was Mattioli 
whom Saint-Mars conveyed in the mask from 
the Isles of Sainte-Marguerite to the Bastille 
in 1698. Mattioli was the hidden prisoner 
whom we have kept touch of throughout. 

Q. E. D. 3 6 3 

There are two very curious corrobora- 
tions of the documentary evidence, deriving 
their value from the fact that they antedate 
by many years the earliest mention of the 
name of Mattioli. The last King of France 
who appears to have known the history was 
Louis XV. Importuned by the Due de 
Choiseul to reveal the prisoner's name, the 
King would only say that ''all the con- 
jectures which had been made hitherto upon 
this subject were false." Madame de Pom- 
padour was then engaged to press for a 
definite reply ; and the King at last informed 
her that the prisoner of the mask was the 
" Minister of an Italian Prince" * 

Still more explicit is Madame Campan, in 
the Memoirs of Marie Antoinette. During 
the first few months of his reign Louis XVI. 

* Dutens : La Correspondance Intercepts. On the other hand, in 
the "Memoirs " of Baron de Gleichen, Louis XV. is represented as 
refusing to give up the secret. If he knew it, there was no reason 
why, at this date, he should not give it up. 


was much occupied, says Madame Campan, 
with the revision of his grandfather's papers. 
He had promised to share with the Queen 
" whatever he might find upon the history 
of the Man with the Iron Mask, who, he 
thought, had become so inexhaustible a 
source of conjecture merely because of the 
interest which a celebrated writer had 
excited in the detention of a prisoner of 

" I was with the Queen," continues Madame 
Campan, " when the King, having finished 
his researches, told her that he had found 
nothing in the secret papers which bore 
in any way on the existence of this prisoner ; 
that he had referred to M. de Maurepas, 
whose age brought him nearer the time 
when the affair must have been known 
to the ministers, and that M. de Maurepas 
had assured him that the prisoner was merely 
a person of a very dangerous character by 

Q. E. D. 365 

reason of his intriguing spirit, and a 
subject of the Duke of Mantua. He was 
enticed to the frontier, arrested, and kept a 
prisoner, first at Pignerol, and then in the 
Bastille r * 

There, in five lines, Madame Campan has 
given us the entire history, and in terms 
literally and absolutely correct. She does 
not know the name of Mattioli, she is 
writing at a time when no one in France 
knows it, and when there has not been as yet 

* Madame Campan adds: " Such was in fact the real truth about 
the man on whom people have been pleased to fix an iron mask. And 

thus was it related in writing, and published by M , twenty years 

ago. He had searched the depot of foreign affairs, and there he had 
found the truth : he had laid it before the public ; but the public 
prepossessed in favour of a version which attracted them by the mar- 
vellous, would not acknowledge the authenticity of the true account. 
Everyone relied upon the authority of Voltaire : and it is still believed 
that a natural or a twin brother of Louis XIV. lived a number of years 
in prison with a mask over his face. The whimsical story of this mask, 
perhaps, had its origin in the old custom, among both men and women 
in Italy, of wearing a velvet mask when they exposed themselves to the 
sun. It is possible the Italian captive may have shown himself some- 
times upon the terrace of his prison with his face thus covered." 


a single word about him in connection with 
the mystery of the Mask ; yet the whole 
truth is there. It is Duke Charles's envoy : 
d'Estrades lures him to the frontier : Catinat 
arrests him ; Saint-Mars has him at Pignerol, 
at the Isles, and in the Bastille. It is 
Mattioli's story in a nutshell. Madame 
Campan's sympathy with her subject no- 
where betrays her into loose or inaccurate 
statements ; and had she been inventing in 
this instance it would have been the most 
extraordinary example of invention in all 
literature. * 

With the official documents which bear 

* In the essay in the Revue des Etudes Historiques, June-July, 
1899, in which he substantiates the proofs of M. Funck-Brentano, 
Vicomte Maurice Boutry has produced a confirmatory passage from the 
Souvenirs of the Marquise de Crequy. Summing up a discussion on 
the Iron Mask between Marshal de Noailles, the Duchess de Luynes, 
the Due de Broncas and others, the Marquise adds : " The leading and 
best-informed persons of my time always considered that that famous 
history had no other foundation than the capture and imprisonment of 
the Piedmontese Mattioli. Voltaire's details are the most ridiculous 
fable." Interesting, but of most questionable authenticity. Was 
there ever a Marquise de Crequy ? 

Q. E. D. 367 

them out, these pregnant passages make 
good the case. 

So the task is ended, the burden of the 
mystery rolls off : Mattioli the Italian takes 
the place of that impossible romantic creature 
who has so long usurped it. The historic 
truth of the affair is best, though we lose a 
Prince who never lived. For a tragi-coloured 
myth we exchange a living tragedy ; a tragedy 
prolonged above the ordinary miseries of 
men. The punishment of Mattioli, through 
four - and - twenty years, for a single act 
of treachery, the effect of which was 
transient, takes something from the splen- 
dours of the reign in which it was inflicted. 

With his unfailing sense of dramatic con- 
trast, Topin has noted that at the very hour 
of Mattioli's unheeded death on a pallet in 
the Bastille, Charles of Mantua arrived on a 
visit to Louis XIV. Did Louis, who lavished 
on his guest the riches of the Luxembourg, 


tell him the fate of his ancient favourite ? 
It would have been heard by Charles as 
carelessly as Louis would have told it. 
Scarce a bowshot from the palace, two turn- 
keys of the Bastille were trailing Mattioli 
in the dusk to a grave in the churchyard of 
St. Paul. 



In One vol., Crown 8vo. Price Six Shillings. 

The Silent Gate: 

A Voyage into Prison. 


" Mr. Tighe Hopkins writes so feelingly and so knowingly of prison 
life that we might fancy he had served a term, of penal servitude. 
Certainly we have never had it brought home to us so forcibly as in 
some of these stories that the ways of transgressors are hard when 
they are caught and sentenced. . . . Mr. Hopkins takes a variety 
of types for the subjects that illustrate the system, and his stories 
alternate between tragedy and comedy. . . . The general effect 
is to give an excellent idea of the inner working of prison routine 
and the effects of punishment on different temperaments." — Times. 

" His great strength lies in this — that, though he has taken a 
subject which lends itself to sensational, and even to melodramatic 
treatment, he knows how to be effective without being melodramatic 
or sensational. His book is a set of eleven short stories, all dealing 
with episodes of prison life, and they are done with a pathos that 
is never mawkish or conventional, and a humour that is never, or 
hardly ever, forced. The story called ' Turkey ' is delightful comedy. 
. . . All the stories are written with admirable restraint." — 

"It is to Mr. Hopkins's credit that in his hands prison life is 
interesting in its strangeness and touching in its humanities. He 
knows the' routine, the slang, the habits, the tricks, the punish- 
ments, the darker shades, and brighter gleams of life in Her Majesty's 
prisons. He can gratify the curiosity of the man who rides past 
Newgate every morning on his 'bus, or the railway passenger who 
sees the turrets and low walls of Wormwood Scrubbs turning and 
fading in the dusk. And he can do this without hardness. . . . 
It is unnecessary to say that this book is well written. ' An Idler 
in Old France ' and ' Lady Bonnie's Experiment ' had qualities of 
style which Mr. Hopkins was not likely to lose or carelessly abandon." 
— Academy. 

ii PRESS OPINIONS— continued* 

"A series of sketches of prison life by one who not only knows- 
his subject, but can put his knowledge into effective literary shape. 
Prison life is of necessity a gruesome thing — but the gruesomenes* 
is here diversified with gleams of real humour and pathos." — Saturday 

" Mr. Tighe Hopkins has seldom done anything better than this 
volume of prison stories, ' The Silent Gate.' It abounds in curious 
detail, it is neither too sentimental nor too cynical, is redeemed 
by many flashes of humour and many studies of queer characters. 
. . . If 'Benjamin Oudd,' and 'Miss Pocket in B Wing,' and 'Miss 
Cullender's Lamb ' are inventions, they are, at all events, very good 
inventions. Miss Pocket's flirtation with an invisible male prisoner, 
under the incredible difficulties which the rules of Her Majesty's 
Prisons place in the way of such proceedings, is a delightful idea. 
. . . Mr. Hopkins does not ostensibly write with a purpose, yet 
incidentally he brings out the points which a prison reformer 
would insist upon." — Westminster Gazette. 

'* Mr. Tighe Hopkins has long cultivated an elegant taste in dungeons, 
ancient and modern. His tales of old French dungeons are piquant to 
the connoisseur of dark walls and rusty fetters. In ' The Silent Gate r 
he has collected stories of modern English prison-life, and they repro- 
duce the prison atmosphere with such extraordinary fidelity that 
if we did not know Mr. Hopkins's career very well, we should be 
inclined to ask : ' What was he in for ? And how often ? ' These 
stories are all interesting, and some of them are well-nigh perfect both 
in matter and treatment." — Illustrated London News- 

" If the impression left upon the mind by these stories is of the 
sorrow and degradation of prison life, yet they show that through 
this atmosphere of gloom break gleams of humour and of sublime 
heroism. It would be difficult to go beyond the pathos of ' The Release 
of Benjamin Cudd.' The slowly advancing madness of this poor imbecile 
is described with the author's accustomed swiftness and pre- 
cision of touch, which bring out the pity of the tragedy. 
The suddenness and inevitableness of the crisis are finely rendered. 
The humour of ' Miss Pocket in B Wing ' is a delightful break in the 
pervading sorrow. ... A very striking tale, 'Miss Cullender's 
Lamb,' reveals how in the heart of a hardened woman runs a redeem- 
ing streak of sublime devotion. This collection of moving and graphic 
tales brings home to the imagination more forcibly than any treatise 
the perplexities that attend the problem of the treatment of criminals." 
— Daily News. 

"In the present volume 'The Release of Benjamin Cudd' is Mr. 
Hopkins's best study of criminal character. Benjamin, is a real prison 

PRESS OPISlOTSS—contintted. Tij 

type, and may be found by the dozen inside the walls of Her Majesty's 
gaols. . . . Mr. Hopkins is at his best -when describing Benjamins 
feelings in expectation of being called before the visiting justices to be 
sentenced to the 'cat.' Nothing could be better than the account of 
Benjamin's breakdown under punishment, his hallucination, his 
delirium, his final intellectual collapse. Benjamin is a fine study in 
criminal psychology, eminently true to life. We should like Mr. 
Hopkins to give us more work of this kind, and leave ingenious escapes 
to lesser literary lights."— Daily Chronicle. 

" Although Mr. Hopkins writes pleasantly enough to keep the reek 
of the midnight oil from his readers' nostrils, his knowledge of his 
subject is always so large and full that he can only have attained 
to it by long and patient study. In these respects his last volume 
is like those which preceded it, so that ' The Silent Gate ' may 
safely be commended to those who wish to get not only some general 
impression of prison life, but also to become acquainted with certain 
of its sordid details. . . . Mr. Hopkins writes with such con- 
vincing certainty as to his facts that the reader will not hesitate 
to accept him as an authority." — Pall Mall Gazette. 

" Of prison stories there is one all too-familiar type, which tells 
of the blameless convict, the corruptible warder, and the heroic escape. 
' The Silent Gate' is a refreshing change; a collection of excellently 
readable tales of the world inside the ' silent gate', some racy, some 
pathetic. Mr. Hopkins introduces us to types that are new. Some 
of these the system ruins; others, like the delightful 'Turkey,' are 
simply sunny, innocent souls, whom no amount of house-breaking 
could contaminate. . . . But Bone and Miss Pocket are the gems 
of the book." — St. James's Gazette. 

" No writer to-day has an easier narrative style than Mr. Tighe 
Hopkins, or a more agreeably urbane gift of humour. In a book 
about prison life and prisoners there hardly seems to be much scope 
for these accomplishments ; yet in ' The Silent Gate ' Mr. Hopkins 
uses both very pleasantly. The story 'Turkey' is a perfect gem of 
light liandling and whimsical observation." — Daily Mail. 

" In eleven brief and powerful tales in his best style, Mr. Tighe 
Hopkins takes his reader on 'a voyage into prison.' The book will 
be read with real, if melancholy, interest. Mr. Hopkins has made 
a careful study of many of the types of characters to be found within 
the walls of the convict prisons of England, and his darkest pictures in 
these pages are at once vivid and impressive. . . . The tales are 
not all pathetic. There is a fine thread of humour running through 
tbem all, imparting to their touching realism a strong artistic quality. 
The book will interest a large class of readers." — Scotsman. 

iv PRESS OPINIONS— continued. 

" Unusual interest attaches to a collection of stories by Mr. Tighe 
Hopkins, entitled ' The Silent Gate : A Voyage into Prison.' Quitting 
the familiar streets and dungeons of mediaeval France, Mr. Hopkins 
takes us boldly into a modern gaol. ... A series of brilliant 
sketches of the strange types of humanity that gather within "the prison 
walls. Only an expert could pronounce upon the fidelity of such por- 
traiture; all that the reader knows is that a vivid picture is pre- 
sented to his imagination. . . . These remarkable stories will 
certainly startle and arrest." — Manchester Guardian. 

" Many stories of prison life have been written, but few that show 
so intimate a knowledge as the eleven which together make up ' The 
Silent Gate.' ... In each story the crime is but an incident, 
a nothing ; the individual is the centre of interest — the study in 
psychology. So well are they presented that we have a difficulty 
in not believing that the characters are true to life, though ' Miss 
Pocket in B Wing ' is too thorough a romance not to have been helped 
by fiction. . . . Mr. Hopkins writes with so much quiet humour, 
has so delicate a touch upon the sordid side of life, that he makes 
even a prison amusing." — Literary World. 

" A varied assortment of prison stories, some pathetic, some 
humorous; all throbbing with a deep humanity." — Publishers' 

" It is no small tribute to Mr. Hopkins's powers of vivid delineation 
to say that the reading of ' The Silent Gate ' makes one feel quite 
'bad.' It is the next best thing to being 'in' in person. The whole 
scene comes before you. . . . The strange case of Dr. Ashmole, 
the 'last prisoner' in Newgate before its disuse, is of a curiously tragic 
character, although quite within the bounds of possibility ; while the 
' Singular Conduct of C 53 ' owes its interest, we expect, to the clever 
imagination of the author. ... Its humour is not the least attrac- 
tive quality of ' The Silent Gate.' " — Bookseller. 

" ' The Release of Benjamin Cudd,' ' Turkey,' and ' Miss Cullender's 
Lamb' call for special mention." — World- 

" Mr. Tighe Hopkins has hit upon a new idea in his ' Silent Gate.' 
Nobody, so far as I remember, has written an entire book of prison 
stories. Certainly no one has given us such an entirelv fresh incarna- 
tion of criminal life as has Mr. Hopkins in his ' Turkey ' — the boy who 
will make the fortune of 'The Silent Gate.' ... Its success is a 
foregone conclusion." — New York Times. 



In i vol. Crown Svo, price 6s. 


" ' An Idler in Old France ' is not, as its title might be taken to 
imply, a book of travel. It is a series of pleasant literary rambles 
among the social annals of by-gone France, illustrating such subjects 
as the streets of old Paris, their humours and their abominations, 
the toilets and meals of its inhabitants, French mediaeval inns, sermons, 
apprentices, doctors, and barber-surgeons, the old fashions of la chasse, 
and so forth. Mr. Hopkins writes from the fulness of knowledge and 
draws his pictures with a vivid touch, and yet not without the dis- 
cretion which his subject often demands. Readers who idle with him 
will idle well and find plenty of entertainment." — Times- 

" ' There are many curious and pleasant paths, not over-trodden 
yet in this romantic tract, which might be for another day,' says Mr. 
Hopkins in his preface. The phrase seems to predict a second volume 
— so much the better : to idle in old France with an observer so 
attentive and so vivacious is not to lose one's time." — Saturday 

" We have seldom read a more charming book of its kind. The 
author has rambled in the by-ways of old French history, and in a 
series of essays, written in a smooth and picturesque style, has drawn A 
series of graphic pictures of old French life which will be equally 
interesting to the ignorant and the well-informed. They are magazine 
articles of a sort that gets rarer and rarer as the spread of education 
widens the circle of readers. ... No contemporary writer does 
this kind of work better than Mr. Tighe Hopkins." — Literature. 

" . . . You perceive the task which Mr. Hopkins sets him- 
self. He performs it as thoroughly as he dare, and as delicately as 
lie may, and the result is a book of curious interest. . . . Romance 
is for ever there, reality here. To contrast them piquantly has always 
been accounted amusing, and it is often instructive. Here it is both." 
— Academy. 

" Everything is told wittily and well, and Mr. Hopkins manages to 
throw a graceful veil even over repulsive topics." — Bookseller. 

vi PRESS OPINIONS— continued. 

" In these jottings by an idler in old France you have uncovered the 
hidden darkness of a superficially brilliant epoch. The book is full 
of curious documents and strange records, and is unquestionably a 
valuable addition to our knowledge of times and peoples." — Bookman. 

"... The Middle Ages with the gilt off, the romance taken 
away. . . . Mr. Tighe Hopkins's book is full of curious and in- 
teresting things." — Spectator. 

"If Mr. Tighe Hopkins robs the olden time of much of its halo, 
he shows that the new is steadily, if slowly, making for righteousness. 
Mr. Hopkins does not do this purposely. He does not preach, does 
not draw moral lessons of any kind. From his accumulations of old 
French lore he selects the significant facts, and leaves those of his 
readers with a turn for reflection to draw their own conclusions. . . . 
The book abounds in well-selected information, and is a valuable help 
to the understanding of the period of social evolution of which it treats." 
— Daily News. 

" As ' An Idler in Old France,' Mr. Tighe Hopkins elects to explore 
the neglected historical by-ways. He ' idles ' to some purpose when the 
result is these entertaining chapters of social history." — Dundee 

"As an appropriate corrective or supplement to the romantic view 
of mediaeval life which leaves out of account everything that is not 
picturesque, we know of nothing better than Mr. Hopkins's essays 
. . . a book which is at once full of information and of entertain- 
ment." — Daihf Chronicle- 

" Mr. Tighe Hopkins has no rival among present-day writers in his 
knowledge of the characteristics of social life in pre-revolutionary 
France." — Daily Mail. 

"A delightful series of essays illustrating the charms and the draw- 
backs of livinsr in a by-gone time." — Critic 

" Most of us would be well content to turn ' idlers ' for the nonce, 
if the results of our idleness were to be as fruitful in interest and 
entertainment as those of Mr. Tighe Hopkins. . . . We are 
tempted to give many extracts from his fascinating volume, but space 
forbids, and we must conclude, only hoping for the speedy realisation 
of the half-promise of the preface to be guided further by the same 
author in these pleasant by-paths of history 'another day.'" — St- 
James's Budget- 

"It is rarely that a volume of historical studies is so interesting." — . 

PEESS OPINIONS— continued. tii 

u In analysing the habits and customs, and extravagance and irre- 
sponsibility of French society in the 17th and 18th centuries, Mr. 
Hopkins contributes a real chapter to a very grim history. . . . 
The toilet, the table, the mediaeval inn, etc., all provide chapters for 
this excellent volume. Mr. Austin Dobson has in many a charming 
essay given us similar, but more softened, pictures of 18th century 
England. In either case, it is real historical work, helping to that 
reconstruction of life and society without which history is but dry 
bones." — Westminster Gazette. 

" A sheaf of picturesque essays. . . . The relations of mediaeval 
masters to their apprentices and work-people is a subject that Mr. 
Hopkins discusses with scholarly care in an essay which is packed with 
quaint information." — Standard. 

" Replete with historical and antiquarian interest. A very acceptable 
companion volume to his work on the old prisons of Paris. Though 
he writes in a style that avoids the remotest suggestion of pedantry, 
Mr. Hopkins proves himself no superficial student." — World. 

" The author of ' The Dungeons of Old Paris ' gives us here another 
collection of interesting details of past French life . . . evidently 
a labour of love, and we gather from the preface that if it finds favour 
he may give us yet more results of his researches into the past. We 
hope it may be so."— Sunday Times- 

" One of the most wholly delightful of recent books." — Sunday Sun, 
"Our Book of the Week." 

" A very interesting and brightly written book." — Literary World. 

" A very entertaining volume." — St. James's Gazette. 

" The • sheaf of papers ' gathered and bound together by ' An Idler 
in Old France ' was worth gleaning. Mr. Tighe Hopkins, however 
sombre his subject, always writes with fascinating freshness and vivid- 
ness. There is not a dull page in his chronicle of old French ways, and 
hardly one in which one may not find some curious, recondite, and 
illuminative piece of information." — Scotsman. 

" Frank and vivid ; careful, curious, and amusing." — New York 

"A unique book. . . . We have given an idea only of the con- 
tents of this entertaining volume, which has assembled an immense 
mass of facts from a wide range of reading, and arranged them in an 
order that affords a well-proportioned picture of France and the 
French two or three hundred years ago. The like of it we should 
find it hard to name, and we should hardly know where to turn for an 
equal amount of diverting information." — Boston Literary World. 



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Under Pat. " Ref. Index File."